Cops STRIKE syndicate den

2016-11-22 09:39
Police cracked down on a crime den in Imbali Unit 13 on Monday where they recovered drugs, liquor, firearms and two stolen vehicles.

Police cracked down on a crime den in Imbali Unit 13 on Monday where they recovered drugs, liquor, firearms and two stolen vehicles. (Ian Carbutt)

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The hunt for armed robbers on Monday led police to a concealed crime den in the heart of Imbali where they recovered narcotics, firearms and stolen vehicles.

Four men, believed to be members of a criminal syndicate, were found at the concrete house — which was hidden behind high walls below road level.

The Witness can reveal that two out of the four men, who were all subsequently arrested, are believed to be well-known criminals recently released from prison.

The arrests came soon after the gang allegedly attempted to rob a businessman in Edendale.

When The Witness arrived in Imbali on Monday, the area was blanketed with police units — Tactical Response Team, K9 Unit, Flying Squad, Public Order Policing and uMgungundlovu South task team as well as Plessislaer and Alexandra police officers — who cracked down on the house, believed to be the “operational den” for the alleged syndicate.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the gang allegedly opened fire on the businessman, who was believed to have been carrying a large sum of cash, on Archie Gumede Road on Monday morning.

“There were no injuries as the man managed to take cover. The suspects also failed in their attempt to rob him,” Ngobese said.

According to a police source, the businessman was driving his Toyota bakkie towards Imbali, with more than R100 000 in transit, when the gang struck.

It is believed the gang members rammed into the bakkie with a blue BMW before opening fire towards the businessman who was trapped inside. Police arrived before the gang could claim the loot. Officers from the various police units then mobilised in an intelligence-driven operation, successfully tracking the four men to their hideout, more than 10 km away from the scene of the botched robbery.

Police zeroed in on the den and arrested the four men who were also in possession of five guns — two of which are believed to be state firearms with serial numbers filed off.

“We recovered an Uzzi and four pistols. Police also found more than 200 Mandrax tablets, Ecstasy, heroin, whoonga straws and liquor,” he said. Police also recovered a Toyota Corolla and a BMW, both believed to have been used in the attempted robbery.

Both vehicles are believed to be stolen.

“We believe this is the house where all the decisions are made regarding their crime syndicate. Four men have been arrested today, but police will be working around the clock to ensure all men linked to the syndicate are brought to book,” Ngobese said.

Acting uMgungundlovu South cluster commander Brigadier Robert Mandla Gwala commended the officers for their “good work” in busting the crime den. Ngobese also warned business owners and residents in Pietermaritzburg to take extra caution when carrying cash. He said that with the festive season approaching, opportunistic crimes will be on the rise.

Police are currently trying to link the men to other cases in the province. They are due to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Read more on:    crime syndicate  |  pietermaritzburg  |  good cops

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