News / South Africa

Erik Naki
2 minute read
27 Feb 2017
6:00 am

Worry about airport drug hauls grows

Erik Naki

The latest discovery of R54.6m worth of drugs and illegal cigarettes at OR Tambo International has raised concerns.

There appears to be increase in the transportation of illicit goods, particularly drugs, through the airport.

In the latest incident, Sars customs officials and detector dogs have intercepted 100kg of crystal meth with an estimated value of R30 million at OR Tambo International Airport on Friday.

Sars spokesperson Sandile Memela said the shipment originated from Cameroon and came through Instanbul in Turkey, on a flight to Johannesburg.

“The cargo found at the transit shed was loose dried fish and 33 cans weighing three litres each that tested positive for crystal meth. The goods were handed over to the police for further investigation,” Memela said.

On February 17, customs officers confiscated 16.6 million suspected illegal cigarettes with a commercial value of R18 million.

The cigarettes were contained in 1 647 master cases that were subsequently detained pending further investigation. Memela said the possible duties in respect of the cigarettes amounted to about R11 million.

On January 25, 28kg of ecstasy and cocaine, estimated at more than R8 million, were confiscated in two separate incidents within 48 hours at the airport.

A detector dog sniffed out a consignment with 15kg cocaine covered in cream valued at R4.3 million in transit from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Windhoek in Namibia. In an earlier incident, a cache of 13.2kg of ecstasy was intercepted at the airport mail centre.

The drugs, with an estimated street value of R3.9 million, were en route to Sweden from Malawi. Memela said customs officials noticed damage on the seals of the cream containers.

“Upon further inspection they discovered ecstasy in 42 containers.”

The investigations into the discoveries were still in progress.

Memela, who expressed concerned about the frequency of the drug discoveries, said last month because some of the consignments had only had a postal address, it was difficult for Sars to track down the actual perpetrators.

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