Over 300 people have been convicted over the past 18 months after being nabbed at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg for either smuggling drugs or trying to enter the country with fraudulent documents, South African Police said yesterday.
“The drugs seized at ORTIA include but were not limited to cocaine, crystal meth [tik], ephedrine, heroine, khat, dagga, and steroids – the most common being cocaine in powder format,” police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said.
“These drugs are found in luggage, clothing, body wraps or swallowed and the criminals are caught through intelligence driven work or random searches. In most cases they originate from South American countries, other African countries and Asia to be manufactured and sold in South Africa however there are cases where suspects are arrested while only stopping over en route to other countries to manufacture and sell the drugs.”
The 142 people arrested over the past 18 months have been sentenced to a total of 1441 years imprisonment.
The drugs seized included 455 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of R114.3 million, 124 kilograms of crystal meth [tik]estimated to be worth R37.4 million, 9 grams of heroine worth around R1.8 million, 7 kgs of khat estimated to be worth R468 600, 46 kgs of ephedrine estimated to be worth R7.4 million, and 30 litres of ephedrine estimated to be worth R9 million.
In addition to the drug arrests, 163 foreign nationals were nabbed over the past year and a half for trying to enter the country with fraudulent identity documents, passports and visas.
Detectives also have their hands full investigating other crimes at the airport.
“Contravention of Section 49 of Immigration Act, Act no.13 of 2002 is another challenge as well as trafficking protected species such as rhino horn and perlemoen. However the detectives work load is also inundated with cases of common crimes,” Naidoo said. – ANA