Five suspects have been arrested for drug trafficking, contravention of the Civil Aviation Act and contravention of the Customs and Excise Act in a coordinated operation spearheaded by the Hawks at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).
The arrest on Wednesday 15 November comes after a large drug consignment was recently confiscated in Australia and two suspects were arrested, said the South African Police Service (SAPS) in a statement.
The arrests follow an intelligence-driven operation by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation following allegations that the suspects are employees of various companies at ORTIA where they are said to be facilitating the thoroughfare of drugs coming into and out of the airport.
Two suspects are employed by ACSA, two are from Menzies Aviation and one is from Swissport.
This is the first operation of its kind in relation to transnational drug trafficking perpetrated through ORTIA, where a drug seizure made abroad was positively linked to suspects in South Africa for their complicity, the SAPS said.
The Provincial Head of the Hawks in Gauteng, Major General Ebrahim Kadwa, applauded the joint investigation team for their concerted effort in ridding the airport of characters tarnishing the name of ORTIA and the country.
“The Hawks is totally committed to countering drug trafficking and would like to send a strong message to corrupt officials in such companies to not get involved in facilitating such illicit activities,” Major General Kadwa said.
Last month, Australian police arrested five suspected traffickers after R500 million worth of cocaine arrived on an aircraft from South Africa. Two of the five suspects who were detained on 7 October were apparently baggage handlers.