‘We will wipe out drug lords’

166 smug­glers ar­rested at OR Tambo

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NONI MOKATI

THE PO­LICE have vowed to bring drug lords and smug­glers to their knees.

Seven drug “mules” were ar­rested at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Thurs­day, bring­ing to 166 the num­ber of drug couri­ers ar­rested at the air­port this year.

Po­lice spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo said at least 22 of them had been South Africans.

“We have recorded many drug traf­fick­ing in­ci­dents across the coun­try. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of these ar­rests take place at OR Tambo as this is the point of en­try for many in­ter­na­tional flights,” he said.

Co­caine was the con­tra­band of choice, with 145 mules caught in pos­ses­sion of the drug, as op­posed to five for hero­ine, seven for tik and two for ephedrine.

Naidoo said the po­lice pro­filed pas­sen­gers based on in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by law en­force­ment in­tel­li­gence units and In­ter­pol.

Pro­fil­ing was an in­tri­cate and highly so­phis­ti­cated pro- cess as drug mules were in­no­va­tive, he said.

“We have seen all sorts of tac­tics used by these drug mules. For in­stance one man was re­cently caught at OR Tambo with co­caine wrapped around his wig. Very much like how Nol­uba­balo ( Nobanda) was caught in Thai­land,” Naidoo said.

Some drug mules swal­lowed con­doms filled with con­tra­band or pushed them up their rec­tums. They also put the fine pow­der or pills in coffins, leg casts, ba­bies’ nap­pies, baby pow­der bot­tles, stat­ues or suit­case lin­ings.

Naidoo said the

po­lice couldn’t re­veal all the meth­ods used as some which were more dif­fi­cult to de­tect could be copied.

“Drug traf­fick­ing is a web of prob­lems for the po­lice, but we even­tu­ally catch the cul­prits,” Naidoo said.

Hawks spokesman Mcin­tosh Polela said although the crime-fight­ing unit had been suc­cess­ful in de­tain­ing drug deal­ers, there was plenty of work to be done.

“Just when you think you’ve closed in on one syn­di­cate or a drug lab an­other one pops up. Deal­ers of­ten re­place drug man­i­festos and mi­grate to other ar­eas for their deal­ings.”

Polela said drug deal­ers also moved to safer ar­eas.

“These are of­ten res­i­den­tial ar­eas,” he said.

He warned that the mar­ket for drugs in the coun­try had be­come in­creas­ingly lu­cra­tive and that drug deal­ers were ex­pand­ing their tar­get mar­ket.

“If a per­son is caught with drugs worth R17 000, it sim­ply means that many peo­ple are us­ing.”

Polela said the crime­fight­ing unit would not rest on its lau­rels.

“We are pretty de­ter­mined to wipe out syn­di­cates. We are con­fi­dent that we will do this in time,” he said.

THE DREADED BUST: Bangkok po­lice search Nol­uba­balo Nobanda’s dreads.

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