R16m crystal meth busts at OR Tambo

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Over R16 million in crystal meth was discovered at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) this week, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said on Thursday.

In the first incident on Wednesday, customs officials stopped two baggage handlers for questioning and decided to search an unaccompanied bag that they had in their possession.

The bag had come to South Africa from Abu Dhabi via the Seychelles, reports official South African government news agency SAnews.

The officers became suspicious after detecting a strong smell of glue and sent the bag for a scan.
“Customs’ new high-tech baggage scanner revealed an image of a concentrated substance and the bag was then physically searched. Officers discovered packets wrapped in carbon, which were covered by T-shirts. The packets contained a white crystal-like substance, which tested positive for crystal meth,” said the revenue service.

Altogether, 20 packets were found containing 20.6kg of crystal meth valued at R6.18 million.

The case has been handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigation.

On Sunday, in the second incident, customs officials discovered over R10 million worth of crystal meth in a passenger’s baggage after stopping him for a random inspection.

The passenger had just arrived on a flight from Dar es Salaam when the officer asked him to hand over his bags for scanning.

The scanner revealed suspicious images and the bags were searched.

The officer found plastic bags filled with a powdery substance, which turned out to be crystal meth. Altogether 34.4kg valued at R10 320 000 was confiscated and the suspect and the goods were handed over to the SAPS for further investigation.

SARS said these are just two of many cases in which customs officials discover large amounts of ephedrine/crystal meth being smuggled into the country.

From April this year to date, customs nationally has recorded crystal meth (tik) busts valued at R122 323 495 – made up of 403.58kg, 20 tablets and 100ml tik – and ephedrine busts valued at R38 515 000 or 123.55kg.



For the whole of the 2014/15 financial year, there were crystal meth busts valued at R159 993 500 and ephedrine busts valued at R2 425 500.
“These recent successes can be attributed to customs’ strategic focus on non-intrusive inspection tools such as the new high-tech baggage scanners, increased numbers of detector dogs, increased capacity and improved training of staff, advanced and sophisticated profiling using the SARS Risk Engine and close co-operation with other law enforcement agencies, such as the SAPS, SA intelligence services, the NPA, as well as ACSA security.”