The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has foiled attempts by two grandmothers to smuggle illicit narcotic drugs to New York, United States, and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
The spokesman for the anti-narcotics agency, Mitchell Ofoyeju, said the suspects ingested 108 wraps of substances that tested positive for heroin and cocaine.
The two grandmothers were nabbed during a screening of passengers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.
According to the NDLEA’s spokesman, the grandmothers blamed their attempt at drug trafficking on financial hardship.
A preliminary investigation by NDLEA revealed that this was the first time a grandmother of 60 years ingested a whopping 83 wraps of narcotics.
One of the suspects was scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia where drug trafficking attracts capital punishment.
According to an NDLEA officer, the woman’s arrest in Lagos has perhaps saved her from facing the death penalty had she been caught in Saudi Arabia.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, Ahmadu Garba, gave the names of the suspected drug traffickers as Adebayo Ebunoluwa Mercy, aged 60, found to have ingested 83 wraps of heroin weighing 1.105kg, and Amodu Ayisat Grace, 59, who swallowed 25 wraps of cocaine weighing 275 grams.
Ms. Mercy was headed for New York City whilst Ms. Grace on her way to Saudi Arabia.
“Adebayo Ebunoluwa Mercy was arrested while boarding a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York while Amodu Ayisat Grace was caught trying to board an Ethiopian airline flight on her way to Medina, Saudi Arabia. The cases are under investigation,” said the NDLEA’s Ahmadu Garba.
Ms. Mercy, who owns a small provisions store in Ikorodu, Lagos, reportedly told agents who arrested her that drug trafficking was an afterthought. She also allegedly claimed to be divorced from her husband.
An NDLEA source quoted the woman as stating that an old friend of hers pushed her into drug trafficking.
“I am a divorcee selling provision for survival. Things became rough and tough for me when I lost my capital due to family problems. It has been my dream to travel to the United States in search of greener pastures.
My involvement in drug trafficking was an afterthought,” she reportedly said. The suspect, who hails from Kogi State, added: “My intention when I got my visa last year was to go and work to take care of my needs without being a burden to anyone.
Everything changed suddenly when I met an old friend at a party. They took care of my travel expenses and gave me $3,000 with a promise to assist me secure a job in the United States.
“It was [a] few hours to my journey that they brought the drugs for me to swallow. They said that it was my contribution for the kindness and money spent on my trip, but it turned out to be my biggest mistake.”
NDLEA officers said the other suspect, Ms. Grace, told investigators that, as a Muslim, she was glad to travel to Saudi Arabia. “I was happy when they offered to sponsor my trip to Saudi Arabia, but I never knew it would end in my detention,” she reportedly told NDLEA operatives.
The anti-narcotics agency also quoted her as stating, “I sell fufu (cassava flour) to take care of my four children as a widow and this has been very challenging.
“They enticed me with a visit to Saudi Arabia and a handsome reward and I fell for the trick,” she said.
The Lagos-born suspect added, “I only swallowed 25 wraps of the drug. Unfortunately I could not get to Saudi Arabia because of my arrest.”
NDLEA chairman/Chief Executive, Colonel Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (ret.), said that it was shocking and shameful for grandmothers to be involved in drug trafficking.
“This move by drug cartels to recruit grandmothers as mules is very disturbing, shocking and shameful. The moral emptiness exhibited by the suspects must be condemned by all.
A situation where grandmothers have become a bad influence on their children and grandchildren is highly regrettable,” said Mr. Abdallah.