Connection to Cocaine Seized in South Africa

Published on Wednesday 5th January 2011

Three Mozambicans are among six people arrested in South Africa after the seizure of 312 kilos of cocaine, with an estimated street value of 316 million rands (47.7 million US dollars).

According to reports in the South African press, the cocaine was hidden among bags of rice in a container that was unloaded at the port of Durban. But Durban was not its final destination - the container was on its way to Mozambique.

The drugs were intercepted - but were then put back in the container, which was allowed to continue by road to Gauteng province, but under police surveillance. When the bags were being offloaded from the container at Isando, in Gauteng, the police sprang and arrested the six suspects.

When the police took a closer look at a luxury car owned by one of the suspects, they also found 100,000 tablets of the drug mandrax.

The six suspects are Mozambicans Jose Rodrigues, Ben Nuvunga and Cassimo Haramate, Briton Nitin Patel, South African Jabar Sheik, and a man of dual South African and Sri Lankan nationality, Peter Fernando.

The six suspects appeared before the Durban Magistrates Court on 30 December, and five were granted bail of between 50,000 and 100,000 rands. Patel could not raise the money, and so remained in detention.

According to a statement from Lt-Col Johan Meeding, of the Organised Crime Unit in the South African police, all six had cellphones with stored numbers allegedly linking them to an international drugs syndicate.

The seizure and arrests followed an eight month investigation, after a tip-off in April, in which the South African police collaborated with the authorities in Canada, Holland and the United Arab Emirates.

The information the police received, said Meeding, "was that the syndicate was well organised and funded with links in Netherlands, Canada and Mozambique with kingpins in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai."

Several foreigners living in South Africa were involved in "transshipment of narcotics from Mozambique to South Africa and vice versa, possibly to other countries as well", he said.

The South African press reports added that, in searches of the suspects' homes, documents relating to the shipping and clearing of containers and those related to a seizure of hashish in a container in Canada were found. A further three suspects have been arrested in Holland.


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