19 April 2006 12:41
Johannesburg, South Africa
R64-million cocaine busts at Jo'burg airport
Two large drug busts at the Johannesburg International
airport in the past two days have kept cocaine worth an
estimated value of R64-million off the streets.
South African Revenue Service (Sars) customs officials
intercepted a shipment of 20kg of cocaine on Wednesday
"The large quantity demonstrates the threat syndicated
crime and the smuggling of illicit items, including
narcotics, pose to South Africa and its communities," said
Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay.
SARS found the narcotics concealed in the wooden handles of
women's handbags as part of cargo freight on a South
African Airways flight from Sao Paulo airport in Brazil to
Johannesburg. Lackay said the flight landed shortly after
"Customs officials risk-profiled the shipment and
physically searched the contents. Inspections found that
the narcotics were concealed in the wooden handles of
The drugs were believed to have a street value of more than
No arrests had been made.
The bust followed police's seizure at the airport on
Tuesday morning of cocaine worth an estimated street value
Lackay said the incidents were not necessarily linked.
Police arrested a 34-year-old Nigerian man at his home in
Randburg on Tuesday night in connection with their bust,
Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo said.
"The drugs arrived here yesterday [Tuesday] morning at
He said "hundreds of thousands of rands in cash was also
seized" from the man's home. Police were not expecting to
make further arrests.
The drugs were imported from South America about a week
In the past seven months, drugs worth an estimated value of
R130-million have been seized at Johannesburg International
airport, Naidoo said.
Lackay said the smuggling highlighted the importance for
Sars to improve customs operations' border- and trade-
"Sars investigators, together with the police, will
investigate the matter further," said Lackay. -- Sapa
-Mail & Gaurdian (online).
local South African news paper. currency in article is
RANDS. exchange rate roughly at 1$ to 6/7 rand (usualy).