Police have uncovered what they have described as “one of the largest covert drug operations in South Africa”, seizing chemicals and equipment worth more than R2 billion, as well as a large quantity of cocaine.
Following investigations by the Hawks, police made the discovery at a business premises in Kraaifontein, Cape Town, the state BuaNews agency reports. “The business premises were being used as a clandestine laboratory in which almost a ton of Methaqualone powder which is commonly used in the manufacture of Mandrax tablets, was seized. This amount of powder can be used to manufacture approximately 1.6 million Mandrax tablets with a street value of R112 million,” he police said in a statement.
Chemicals that could have been used to manufacture a further two million Mandrax tablets and equipment to the value of R10 million were also seized. Four Indian nationals were arrested in connection with the drug bust and are expected to appear in the Kuilsriver Magistrate’s Court on charges of dealing in drugs tomorrow.
In a separate incident, members of the SAPS Crime Intelligence Unit at the OR Tambo Airport found R12 million worth of cocaine in the possession of a Mozambican woman who had just returned from South America. The woman will appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court tomorrow. National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele praised police for their good work in relation to the two incidents.
“These are indeed huge infiltrations as it helps our efforts enormously to overcome the scourge of drugs. Uncovering a laboratory as well as identifying drug mules entering the country are indeed much bigger than just seizing drugs on its own, as this is aiming the heart of such operations,” he said according to BuaNews.
Drug abuse was a major concern for the police, particularly because serious crimes were committed by drug users to sustain their addiction, Cele noted. “It is my firm belief that campaigning against drugs and effectively policing this environment will help us overcome other serious crimes like murder, rape, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, armed robberies, theft, etc,” he added.