Police have arrested 15 suspects during the seizure of drugs worth R3.5 million in East London, in the Eastern Cape.
About R4 million in cash was also confiscated during the operation which followed a six-month long investigation, SAnews reports.
The arrests followed after Operation Damon which started in January this year.
The operation, according to Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, involved officials from the various police directorates, namely the Hawks, Crime Intelligence, the Tactical Response Team (TRT), Public Order Policing (POP), the Forensic Science Laboratory and the K9 Unit.
“In an early morning raid at around 04:00 on Wednesday, the team carried out 16 search warrants simultaneously in four East London suburbs, namely Vergenoeg, Parkside, Bramley, Buffalo Flats and a farm in Kei Road,” said Mulaudzi on Thursday.
Out of the 16 search warrants, recoveries were only made at nine addresses.
“At one location, the police found R3 million in cash stashed away in a vehicle and further probing led the team to Kei Road, where almost R1.6 million worth of Mandrax tablets were found inside a trailer that had a concealed compartment to store and move the drugs.”
Two people were arrested immediately for this.
In another raid in Buffalo Flats, the police seized R1.3 million in cash, two cash-counting machines, as well as at least 2 800 Mandrax tablets worth more than R1.6 million.
Police also confiscated cocaine rocks, dagga, methamphetamine (Tik) straws, cash-counting machines computers as well as two vehicles.
National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Riah Phiyega, congratulated the team on their successful drug-related operation.
“The fact that this operation resulted in such a significant seizure of drugs and cash shows the excellent work the police are doing to reduce the influx of drugs in our communities. Criminals need to know that drug activities will not be tolerated in our communities and the results of these operations go a long way in sending that message,” she said.
Acting Head of the Hawks Major General Mthandazo Ntlemeza said Project Damon is another example of the alliance between various police directorates.
“We will not only arrest those who are involved in this type of organised crime, but we are committed to going further and targeting their illicit profits and assets.”
Our multifaceted approach involving intelligence gathering, enhanced law enforcement, prevention and intervention, will make a real difference in cracking down on the manufacturing and supply of illicit drugs, Ntlemeza added.
Investigations continue and further arrests are expected. The arrested suspects will appear in the East London Magistrate’s Court today.