R85 m drugs smuggled in a load of bananas destined for Cape Town.
Two containers of drugs found on vessel
SOUTH AFRICA, Port Elizabeth: Narcotics worth over R85 million were discovered amongst a container of bananas destined for the Port of Cape Town in a raid on board a vessel travelling from Ecuador that docked at the Port of Ngqura over the weekend.
A multi-disciplinary integrated operation by the Ports of Entry team on Sunday raided the vessel from Ecuador, South America after intelligence indicated that two containers were carrying illegal drugs.
“The suspected containers were on board a vessel that had docked in Port Elizabeth at the Ngqura Port. The team, which included Customs Investigations, the K9 unit and SAPS Border Police, was duly activated and the process initiated to trace and secure the two containers,” said Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale.
She said the inter-agency teams ensured that the targeted containers were removed to the container depot and upon opening the containers, it was found the contents were bananas, as described on the bill of lading, which also indicated that the container was destined for Cape Town.
After checking the cartons of bananas, the team uncovered a hidden compartment with a refrigeration unit. “Upon removing some of the panelling, the team discovered packages wrapped in brown tape. The panelling was removed and a total of 40 packages, which tested positive for cocaine, were discovered in both the containers.
“Further profiling was conducted and discovered that there were a further two containers that were linked to the product type and packaging methodology on the same vessel. The team immediately decided to secure the containers,” said Mogale.
On Sunday at 1am, a sniffer dog reacted positively to the same rear refrigeration panelling as the previous two containers earlier.
“All role players then jointly removed the panelling and discovered a further 45 bricks wrapped in brown packaging tape, which tested positive for cocaine with an estimated weight of 45 kilograms in both containers. A total of 85 bricks with an approximate weight of 85 kilograms and an estimated street value of R85 million were seized,” said Mogale.
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