28 May 2012
South African and international police are working together to curb a suspected international drug smuggling unit following the seizure of 1.1 tons of narcotics with a street value of R36-million in Tulisa Park outside Johannesburg on Saturday.
The seizure was made during a joint operation between elite police unit the Hawks, the South African Police Service (SAPS) Crime Intelligence, and customs officials from the South African Revenue Service.
The narcotics were packaged in fraudulently labelled packs, including pet food cans, tobacco and coffee packages, said national police spokesperson Captain Dennis Adriao.
It is believed that the consignment of drugs was destined for international markets.
Initial tests conducted at the scene indicated that the drugs were hashish.
“The success of this seizure was attributed to information received from a member of the public and weeks of investigations, which identified the storage facility where the narcotics were being stored,” Adriao said.
“The storage facility … was part of a freight service that stores consignments and then also dispatches the freight to various parts of the country and overseas.”
Police also found a large tortoise, which was identified by the NSPCA Wildlife Unit as a leopard tortoise – an approximately 50-year-old female.
“The tortoise didn’t have any food or water and was being kept together with the narcotics consignment. We believe that the tortoise could have been destined for the international markets as well, especially the Asian countries.”
No arrests have been made as yet, but the Hawks were still following up on information, Adriao said.