Woodlands drug lab busted

2015-11-03 11:40
Captain Rumen Maistry, Sergeant Garren Nicholson, Constable Thobani Mjwara, Constable Ryno Otto, Warrant Officer Santosh Baiju and Sergeant Christopher Theophilus were part of the team who made the drug bust on Sunday evening.

Captain Rumen Maistry, Sergeant Garren Nicholson, Constable Thobani Mjwara, Constable Ryno Otto, Warrant Officer Santosh Baiju and Sergeant Christopher Theophilus were part of the team who made the drug bust on Sunday evening. (Amil Umraw, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - An elite police squad worked tirelessly to bring down one of Pietermaritzburg’s most nefarious drug rings by shutting down a drug lab in Woodlands on ­Sunday night.

Waiting for the cover of darkness, members of the Mountain Rise drug unit — a specialised team tasked with ­addressing the drugs scourge in the northern suburbs — in conjunction with Crime Intelligence operatives, swooped on an unsuspecting man alleged to be a drug lord at his home in the ­Afghanistan area in Woodlands.

The 40-year-old Nigerian national was caught in the act of manufacturing large quantities of Methcathinone (commonly known as ‘Cat”) and crack cocaine.

It is believed the man’s two-year-old child was in the house watching cartoons in the lounge area, a few metres away from where the drugs were being “cooked”, when the police kicked in the back door.

Police recovered about R80 000 in cash, believed to be profits from the sale of drugs, as well as drugs with a street value of more than R500 000.

According to Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Gay Ebrahim, the team of officers gathered information on the ­entire operation, down to the vehicles used in the distribution of the drugs, the dealers and the manufacturer.

It is believed the team had been ­compiling information on the man, who allegedly manufactures and sells the drugs, for over a month.

Police information revealed that ­Sundays were the busiest nights for the drug lord, with manufacturing rates and sales skyrocketing towards the evening.

At about 9 pm on Sunday night, after seven hours of staking out the premises to identify customers, police entered the house through the back door directly ­into the kitchen, where the man was found “cooking” the drugs.

Ebrahim said after handcuffing the man, police found large quantities of Cat, crack cocaine and cocaine powder.

Upon searching the bedrooms, police uncovered R80 000 in R100 and R200 notes, and more powdered cocaine.

There were also utensils and measuring equipment used to manufacture the drugs scattered on the kitchen table.

The man’s wife, who according to Ebrahim was shopping at the time of the bust, was called to fetch the child.

When The Witness arrived at the house, the man’s wife had locked herself in her new Volkswagen Polo and was waiting on the driveway for police to ­finish their investigation.

According to neighbours, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, they “always suspected” the man was selling drugs.

“There are posh cars like BMWs and Mercedes that come to that house at all times during the day and night,” a ­neighbour said.

“The couple and their child moved in about four or five weeks ago and we think they are renting, but they live very ­lavishly compared to the rest of us in this neighbourhood.”

The man is expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court soon.

Addiction recovery coach Jarrod Cronje said “Cat” was the “cheap man’s cocaine” and was big in Gauteng, but had also made an appearance in KZN.

“It has similar effects to methamphetamine [tik] and ‘speed’. Cat costs R200-R250 per gram, whereas cocaine costs about R400 per gram,” Cronje said.

What is Cat?

METHCATHINONE is a derivative of a naturally occurring stimulant drug, cathinone, which is found in the khat plant (Cathula edulis) which is native to the horn of Africa and southern Arabian peninsula.

Methcathinone was first synthesised in Germany in 1928. It was used medically in the Soviet Union as an anti-depressant during the 1930s and 1940s, and has reportedly been used as a recreational drug in that region since the late 1960s.

According to the South Coast Recovery Centre, it is South Africa’s most recent drug threat and since 2001 has emerged as a cheap substitute for methamphetamine (tik).

— Health24.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  drug bust

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