Cocaine kingpins cornered

2015-02-28 00:00

A SECRET undercover operation, planned for two years, paid off yesterday when police arrested three notorious cocaine dealers in Northdale, Eastwood and Woodlands.

After building a thick dossier of evidence on the three dealers and their couriers, detectives from the Mountain Rise police station, along with members from the Tactical ­Response Team and the K9 Unit, kicked down the doors of the alleged criminals during the early hours of yesterday morning.

Driven by information gathered over two years from agents mobilised by a Crime Intelligence operative and Mountain Rise detectives, a special task team assembled at 4 am yesterday in the pouring rain and ear-splitting thunder.

Heavily armed with handguns, assault rifles and bulletproof jackets, the almost 30 officers started their raid in Eastwood, targeting an alleged dealer just off Tarentaal Road.

Officers quietly encircled the property, blocking all exits, before kicking down the man’s front door.

The man, who allegedly deals in powdered cocaine, denied all accusations put to him before his home was thoroughly checked for valuables, bank statements, drugs and a licence for his handgun.

Second on the target list was a woman and her two sons from Woodlands. She has a previous conviction for dealing in drugs and was on parole in a 20-year sentence when she was arrested yesterday.

“I was just in jail; you think I want to go back?” she pleaded with the police.

Police located a filthy and ­tarnished “smoke house” behind her premises, where her customers allegedly consume the “crack” she supplies.

She and one son were arrested. The second son was not at the premises and is currently being sought by the police.

The police convoy of more than 10 vehicles then made its way to ­Mysore Road to “cut the head off the snake”, as described by an officer on the scene whose name is known to The Witness.

He was referring to one of ­Northdale’s alleged drug kingpins, who allegedly supplies large ­quantities of “crack” and powdered cocaine to users.

The man, who opened the door for police in his boxer shorts, watched as officers swept through every nook and cranny of his home, uncovering instruments such as pipes commonly used in drug consumption.

“I was selling for so long and you never came; now when I’ve stopped you come,” he said to officers.

After taking the leader into custody, police focused on the arrests of three of his alleged couriers or “runners”, who sell or transport the drugs on his behalf.

Two of the alleged couriers were arrested while the third was not at his premises and is being sought.

One, a man believed to be in his late 50s, admitted that he used to keep the drugs on behalf of his boss but said he never sold them. ­However, he was confronted with further evidence, at which point he began to get emotional, with tears welling up.

Acting Cluster Commander Brigadier Francis Bantham commended her staff for their work yesterday. She also thanked the communities for their support and emphasised that the community must work with the police to rid the city of drugs.

“This should stand as a warning to other dealers that the police have a zero tolerance for drugs,” she said.

All those arrested will appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

A deadly addiction

ADDICTION recovery coach Jarrod Cronje provided insight into the plague of cocaine in the Pietermaritzburg community.

According to Cronje, cocaine, a white powder derived from the cocoa plant, is probably among the top three most addictive narcotics in the world.

Cocaine is normally snorted, but can be cooked with bicarbonate of soda to create “crack”, a white, rock-like substance that is smoked and provides a more intensive high because of the direct intake into the lungs.

“It gives you a 20-25 minute sense of euphoria, excitement and strength; all your emotions become over-exaggerated,” Cronje said.

He said cocaine becomes extremely dangerous when mixed with alcohol, as it creates a third drug in the system called “cocaethylene” which could lead to a heart attack.

On the streets, powdered cocaine comes at a cost of R300 to R400 per gram, while crack is cheaper at R50 to R80 per gram.

“Users become preoccupied with getting and using the drug and focus all their monies on that, sometimes spending close to R1 000 per day, resulting in an economic meltdown in the community,” Cronje added.

He added that the police had done a good job, but warned that replacement drug dealers could easily emerge to take their place in the city’s drug scene.

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