The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested 13 suspected drug traffickers at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in August and September, including some staff of the two ground handling companies at the airport.

A source close to the anti-narcotics agency told SaharaReporters on Sunday that staff of Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) conspired with drug dealers to traffic banned substances through the airport.

The source said that eight suspects were arrested in August while five were arrested in September. The NDLEA had beamed its searchlights on the activities of the two ground handling agencies following investigations exposing the involvement of their staff in drug trafficking.

According to the source, the deployment of more screening machines to the Lagos airport has made it easier for authorities to detect drugs.

The source explained that some of the drug cabals now use the airside staff of NAHCO and SAHCOL to peddle drugs out of the country, stressing that most of them could no longer use the terminal due to the installation of the screening machines.

The source added, “However, the attempt to traffic drugs through the airside also failed because we have several surveillances at that area of the airport, which the majority of these staff are not aware of. In the past two months, some staff of NAHCO were arrested in two consecutive operations and some staff of SAHCOL were also arrested, interrogated and detained from one operation carried out during the period.

“Those interrogated and arrested have continually offered reliable and useful information to our investigators and other aviation security agencies at the airport.”

Another source at the airport told our correspondent that apart from the staff of the two ground handling companies, other workers who have access to the airside were similarly involved in drug trafficking.

The source said some staff might have become involved in drug trafficking due to the low pay they receive, with many workers earning N15,000 monthly.

“These are the workers the drug barons approach to help them transport illicit drugs to a waiting aircraft as check-in luggage. It happens almost on a daily basis at the airport,” the source added.

It would be recalled that SaharaReporters had exclusively reported in August that operatives of the NDLEA had arrested at least six warehouse and tarmac staff of NAHCO in connection with drug trafficking at the Lagos airport.

The online medium had gathered that the arrested staff had attempted to export substances believed to be cocaine out of the country.

Sahara Reporters had learnt that the suspects had attempted to smuggle 26 kilograms of cocaine aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.

An investigation had revealed that the suspects agreed to help courier the banned substance out of the country after an exporter had allegedly paid them in foreign currency.

NDLEA officer with sniffer dog

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