R2bn drug bust in KZN

2014-06-25 10:07

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Jeff Wicks, The Witness

Durban - Police seized uncut heroin worth over R2bn from an international drug cartel in Kloof on Tuesday night, in what is believed to be the biggest bust in recent history.

The plush home, which is surrounded by high walls topped with electrified fencing, was encircled by police, who raided the property as darkness descended.

The raid reminded of a drug blitz in nearby Gillitts last year, where R41m worth of drugs was seized.

The pungent aroma of chemicals that lingered in the street on Tuesday was the only subtle hint at a high-powered drug ring operating in the leafy suburb.

The property features a swimming pool, garden cottages and a squash court.

Tip-off

It is understood that heavily armed officers from tactical police units swooped on the sprawling home after receiving a tip-off.

Three men, two of whom are Chinese nationals, were arrested at what police called a “sophisticated drug laboratory”.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed the bust.

“This is the biggest drug bust in recent history.”

The provincial commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni has congratulated all of the members involved. “It is excellent work,” she said.

Zwane said that officers had indexed almost a hundred industrial bags of uncut heroin, a potent and highly addictive street drug.

Machines

“There are lots of machines and chemicals inside the house that we believe were used in the manufacture of drugs for further distribution. This is a plant on a scale that we have never seen,” Zwane added.

He said that an examination of evidence was expected to take several days.

“There are so many bags and this property also needs to be extensively searched by members of the dog unit.”

Member of the Hawks could be seen entering the heavily guarded house, carrying bales of equipment.

A source close to the investigation, who could not be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said that the second floor of the house had been converted into a laboratory.

He added that forensic experts from Pretoria may be called in to examine the house.

The men, who have yet to be identified, are expected to appear in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court in the days to come.

Renovations

Neighbour Garth Williamson said the property had been extensively renovated.

“The people looking after the house seemed to be very security conscious, they were very particular about the remote-controlled gates and if you look at how high the walls are you would never be able to see inside.”

Williamson added that construction workers had dug a borehole on the property because “the owner wanted to build a nursery. As far as I knew no one had moved in permanently.

“Finding out that my neighbour is a drug kingpin is incredible. Seems like this neighbourhood is the perfect place for them,” he said.

In November police found equipment used to produce Mandrax and heroin at a Gillitts home.

Nineteen men were arrested at the house on charges of possession and dealing in narcotics.

In December three of the 19 people arrested in connection with the drug laboratory, Thoba Shongwe, Siphiwo Dlamini and Menzi Ntshalintshali, were denied bail at the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court.

Magistrate Ravi Pillay denied bail because two of the three Swaziland nationals were in the country illegally, while a third had violated the conditions of his visitor’s visa that prohibited him from working.

Read more on:    durban  |  narcotics  |  crime
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