R100m cocaine mule jailed
A Croatian drug mule will spend seven years behind bars in South Africa after admitting to bringing 230kg of cocaine - said to be worth about R100-million - into the country.
Brainimir Orac, 33, a cook on the Romanian-registered Senator, was arrested in January this year after police from Pietermaritzburg's organised crime unit raided the ship while it was docked in Durban Harbour.
They found the cocaine in Orac's sleeping quarters.
Orac pleaded guilty to a charge of dealing in cocaine in terms of a plea-bargain agreement with the State, which was ratified in the Camperdown Regional Court on Friday.
In his written plea, Orac said that he had been approached by a fellow crewman, Dragan Vujovic, and others not known to him in October last year, while the ship was docked at Buenos Aires.
They had employed him to transport cocaine to Europe. He had decided to "seize the opportunity for financial gain".
He said he had concealed the cocaine in his sleeping quarters.
"As agreed, I packaged some of the cocaine with watertight packaging in order to preserve it and facilitate delivery in the Sea off Gibraltar.
"I was going to throw some of it overboard and it would be collected by parties unknown. The balance was to be delivered in Europe," he said.
En route to Europe, the ship had developed engine problems and had to stop at Durban for repairs, where the police pounced.
Orac said that he had been employed as a messman (an employee in the dining room on board ship), earning about $1 300 (about R9 500) a month.
He was married and had one son.
He said he was remorseful for his conduct, and that the sentence and overall effect on his life would send a clear message to others that drug dealing was not worth the risk.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, of which five years were suspended.
November 02 2009 at 11:06AM
100 million SA Rand = 146,895,643 USD