South African police in record drug bust

26 June 2014

South African police have seized nearly 10 tons of pure heroin worth over R3-billion (US$280-million) and arrested three men, including two Chinese nationals, in the biggest drug bust in the country’s history.

Police uncovered the drug laboratory in the upmarket suburb of Kloof in Durban, and conducted the successful raid on Tuesday night, confiscating piles of 40-kilogram bags of pure heroin powder along with industrial mixers and chemistry equipment.

The three arrested suspects, aged 23, 55 and 56, were charged with manufacturing drugs and were expected to appear at the Pinetown Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The Witness newspaper reported on Thursday that the three were understood to be “underlings” in an international drug syndicate, and that the hunt for the kingpins was now on, with forensic detectives having flown in from across the country to analyse the evidence being assembled from the hi-tech drug lab.

“I can say that investigators are using evidence that was found during the raid … to establish where they came from,” National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega told The Witness after visiting the compound on Wednesday.

“I recently stated that I have issued an instruction that Crime Intelligence identify the top 15 syndicates in the country and work together with the detectives and the hawks to go after these syndicates operating in serious crime such as drugs, cash in transit, human trafficking, money laundering, arms and ammunition,” Phiyega said.

“These drugs that we uncovered destroy the lives of our people who use them, especially the youth. They also are a huge contributor to other related crimes such as murder and robberies.”

According to The Witness, the drug lab had been shut away in what was once a squash court on a sprawling property sheltered by trees, with the main house and garage used to store the uncut narcotics.

SAnews.gov.za and SAinfo reporter