South African police clamping down on drug trafficking

Police have arrested 15 suspects‚ seized drugs worth R3‚5 million and confiscated R4 million in cash‚ believed to be the proceeds of crime.

Hailing the bust as a major breakthrough in combating the drug-trafficking network in East London in the Eastern Cape‚ the SAPS said they had set up an investigation in January called Operation Damon. This comprised various police units including the Hawks‚ Crime Intelligence‚ the Tactical Response Team and Forensic Science Laboratory.

In an early morning raid at around 4am yesterday‚ the team carried out 16 search warrants simultaneously in four East London suburbs — Vergenoeg‚ Parkside‚ Bramley‚ Buffalo Flats and a farm in Kei Road. Out of the 16 search warrants‚ “recoveries” were made at nine addresses.

At one location‚ the police found R3 million in cash stashed away in a vehicle and further probing led the team to Kei Road‚ where almost R1‚6 million worth of Mandrax tablets were found inside a trailer that had a concealed compartment to store and move the drugs. Two people were arrested immediately.

In another raid in Buffalo Flats‚ the police seized R1‚3 million in cash‚ two cash-counting machines‚ as well as at least 2 800 Mandrax tablets worth more than R1‚6 million.

The 15 suspects were charged with dealing in drugs‚ possession of items suspected to have been stolen and possession of drugs.

Seizures made were

•Cocaine rocks‚ dagga‚ methamphetamine (Tik) straws and 41 test tubes

•A safe with documents

•R4 300 392‚60 in cash believed to be the proceeds of crime

•A total of 54 378 Mandrax tablets worth more than R3 200 000‚00

•Two cocaine weighing scales

•Two cash-counting machines


•Two vehicles: A BMW sedan and one Toyota Corolla

•Two quad bikes.

National Commissioner of Police‚ General Riah Phiyega‚ said the SAPS was committed to reducing the influx of drugs across South Africa.

“Criminals need to know that drug activities will not be tolerated in our communities and the results of these operations go a long way in sending that message‚” she said.

Acting Head of the Hawks‚ Major General Mthandazo Ntlemeza‚ said Project Damon “is a major breakthrough and a great example of what we can achieve when various police directorates cooperate.

 “We will not only arrest those who are involved in this type of organised crime‚ but we are committed to going further and targeting their illicit profits and assets.”

Investigations continue and further arrests are expected.

All the arrested suspects will appear in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Friday‚ 10 July 2015.

- On Tuesday‚ a 52-year-old man appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court after he was arrested at the weekend by the South African Police Service’s Transnational Investigation Team as he was about to smuggle crystal meth worth almost R1-million into the country.

Emmanuel Akunehuezi Obiwuru was travelling on a Nigerian-issued passport and was one of three people arrested by the team at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg within a space of 24 hours for drug smuggling.

At the time of his arrest he had just disembarked from a flight coming from Lagos‚ Nigeria. The drugs were found wrapped around his body‚ a police spokesman said.

“Obiwuru has been remanded in custody for further investigation and the remand date will be communicated at a later stage.”

- In a separate incident‚ at about 07h30 on Tuesday‚ two men who were apparently in transit at the airport were arrested as they landed from a flight from Sao Paolo‚ Brazil.

It was believed they had swallowed drugs.

“It was later confirmed that the two had indeed swallowed drugs‚ the value of which cannot be established as yet because some of the drugs are still lodged in their stomachs.”

- A 42-year-old man appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday for dealing in illegal drugs after allegedly being found in possession 16kg of the drug tik with an estimated street value of R5.2 million.

The drugs were discovered in the man’s hand luggage when he arrived at Cape Town railway station by bus on Saturday‚ Western Cape police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said.


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