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LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria seized $9.9 million worth of heroin concealed in auto parts shipped from Iran, its anti-drugs agency said on Friday, days after the West African country reported Tehran to the U.N. over an illegal arms seizure.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said the haul at the Apapa seaport in Lagos on Thursday, one of its biggest recent seizures, was based on "strong intelligence" received from foreign collaborators about four months ago.
Based on the intelligence, the agency had closely monitored the consignment and some key players behind its shipment before it arrived in Lagos, NDLEA spokesman Mitchell Ofoyeju said.
"The NDLEA ... decided to get a welder to cut open the engine parts and behold, we found hidden inside them 130 kg of heroin with a street value of about 1.5 billion naira," Ofoyeju told Reuters.
"The consignment was from Iran and we have arrested three Nigerians connected with the illicit drugs."
Nigeria reported Tehran to the United Nations Security Council last week after its secret service intercepted an illegal arms shipment from Iran at its main port of Lagos last month.
Rockets and other explosives hidden in containers of building materials were shipped to Nigeria from Iran in an apparent breach of U.N. sanctions imposed over Tehran's refusal to halt a sensitive nuclear programme.
Nigeria is not a major narcotics consumer, but like several other coastal West African nations, it is a major transit hub for trafficking in hard drugs from Asia and Latin America to Western markets thanks to lax customs controls and corruption.