Drugs worth over R30 mln seized at OR Tambo airport

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JOHANNESBURG, April 13 – South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs officials at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) seized over 100 kilogrammes of drugs worth an estimated R30 million.

In a statement Friday, SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela further confirmed that during the past financial year SARS customs had seized illicit and counterfeit goods worth over R2,3 billion.

SARS said that this week customs officials confiscated 108kg of drugs which were hidden in boxes and declared as “calcium carbonate” at ORTIA.

“Officials inspected the boxes in the cargo section at ORTIA after they arrived from Kenya on Tuesday,” Memela said. “They discovered a white powdery substance and a brown sand-like substance, which they sent to a private laboratory for testing. The results came back positive for the drug ketamine (the white powdery substance) and Acetylanthranil, a base ingredient for Methaqualone (mandrax).”

The case was handed over to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) for further investigation.

In a separate incident, a truck leaving Lesotho was stopped on Thursday at Ficksburg border post in the Free State and searched after the driver acted suspiciously. Customs officials then discovered 207 bags filled with cannabis weighing over 6,000 kilogrammes. The total value of the cannabis is over R9million. The driver was taken into police custody.

SARS Customs also released statistics for the total number of busts which took place over the past financial year, with the combined value of goods confiscated from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 amounting to over R 2.3-billion.

According to Chief Officer for Customs and Excise, Teboho Mokoena, the seizure of counterfeit clothing, footwear and other goods made up the biggest contribution, amounting to R1.8-billion. This was followed by the seizure of narcotics, including Tik, cocaine and other drugs, amounting to over R326-million.

— Narcotics: 728 busts valued at R326,898,911

— Cigarettes: 383 busts valued at R29,659,899

— CITES (including endangered species such as rhino horns and abalone): 55 busts valued at R45,298,167

— Currency: 21 busts valued at R79,304,889

— Viagra / Viagra Generics: 214 busts valued at R17,717,200

— Counterfeit clothing, footwear and other goods: 1,698 busts valued at R1,811,678,633

— Clothing and Textiles (second hand and other infringements): 51 busts valued at R76,860,835

— Alcohol: 269 busts valued at R4,647,665

According to SARS, some of the high-profile busts which took place during this period include a special high-visibility joint operation led by SARS Customs and involving various government agencies, in Cape Town on 1 and 2 March 2018.

“It resulted in 46 busts of goods with a value of R33,229,233. The biggest bust of the operation was the discovery of uncut crystal methamphetamine (tik) with an estimated value of R30 million stashed in fridges on a truck which arrived in Cape Town from Johannesburg.

“In the same truck, a large amount of suspected counterfeit clothing was also discovered. The truck driver was arrested.”

Other highlights included the seizure of:

— Rhino horn with an estimated value of R5,752,000 en route from South Africa to Hong Kong, at ORTIA

— Cocaine with an estimated value of R56,676,900 en route from Brazil to Australia via South Africa,  at ORTIA

— Cocaine with an estimated value of R10 069 500 en route from Brazil to Namibia via South Africa, at OR Tambo International Airport

— Cocaine with an estimated value of R7 480 200 en route from Brazil to Congo via South Africa seized at OR Tambo International Airport

— Crystal Meth with an estimated value of R7,200,000 from Nigeria to South Africa, at ORTIA

— Rhino horn with an estimated value of R4,600,000 en route from Zambia to Hong Kong via South Africa, at ORTIA

— Currency (US dollars) valued R6,717,848 en route from South Africa to Dubai, at ORTIA

— Ecstasy with an estimated value of R33,600,000 en route from Cameroon via Kenya to South Africa, at ORTIA

— Currency (US dollars) valued R10,328,010 en route from South Africa to Canada, at ORTIA

— Currency (US dollars) valued R10,069,249 en route from Angola to South Africa, at ORTIA

— Sexual Enhancement Tablets valued at R5,260,000 en route from India via Seychelles to South Africa, at ORTIA

— Currency (Rands and US dollars) valued R10,323,591 en route from South Africa to Dubai, at Cape Town International Airport

— Currency (Rands and US dollars) valued R6,198,828 en route from South Africa to Dubai, at King Shaka International Airport

— Crystal Meth with an estimated value of R6,180,000 en route within South Africa, at ORTIA

— Abalone with an estimated value of R10,000,000 en route from South Africa to China, at Port Elizabeth Harbour

— Kamagra (Generic Viagra) valued at R4,000,000 en route from India to South Africa, at ORTIA

— Ephedrine with an estimated value of R17,202,000 en route from Kenya to South Africa, at ORTIA

— Currency (US dollars and pound sterling) valued R15,000,000 en route from South Africa to Dubai, at ORTIA

— Viagra valued at R9,000,000 en route from Dubai to South Africa, at ORTIA

— Crystal Meth with an estimated value of R8,358,000 en route from Rwanda to South Africa, at ORTIA

— Ephedrine with an estimated value of R17,202,000 en route from Kenya to South Africa, at ORTIA

– African News Agency (ANA)