South Africa: R85 Million Drug Bust at PE Harbour

10 September 2019

An intelligence-driven police operation over the weekend discovered and seized narcotics worth over R85 million at the Port Elizabeth.

The multi-disciplinary integrated operation by the Ports of Entry team on Sunday pounced on a vessel from Ecuador, South America.

In a statement issued on Monday, police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale said the operation was conducted from intelligence that two containers were suspected of having narcotics on board.

"The suspected containers were on board a vessel that had docked in Port Elizabeth at the Ngqura Port. The team, which included Customs Investigations, the K9 unit and SAPS Border Police, was duly activated and the process initiated to trace and secure the two containers," said Mogale.

She said the inter-agency teams ensured that the targeted containers were removed to the container depot and upon opening the containers, it was found the contents were bananas, as described on the bill of lading, which also indicated that the container was destined for Cape Town.

Mogale said the cartons of bananas were physically checked, upon which a rear refrigeration unit in a hidden compartment was discovered.

"Upon removing some of the panelling, the team discovered packages wrapped in brown tape. The panelling was removed and a total of 40 packages, which tested positive for cocaine, were discovered in both the containers.

"Further profiling was conducted and discovered that there were a further two containers that were linked to the product type and packaging methodology on the same vessel. The team immediately decided to secure the containers," said Mogale.

On Sunday at 1am, a sniffer dog reacted positively to the same rear refrigeration panelling as the previous two containers earlier.

"All role players then jointly removed the panelling and discovered a further 45 bricks wrapped in brown packaging tape, which tested positive for cocaine with an estimated weight of 45 kilograms in both containers. A total of 85 bricks with an approximate weight of 85 kilograms and an estimated street value of R85 million were seized," said Mogale.

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