Counterfeit crooks caught in Durban sting

2010-12-02 00:00

TWO suspects were arrested on Monday for allegedly offering a police officer a bribe of R70 000 for the release of a container filled with counterfeit clothing valued at more than R13,3 million.

Clever teamwork by the police fooled the two suspects into believing the officer was willing to accept the bribe.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said that on Tuesday, November 16, the commander of a police anti-smuggling unit received information from one of his members that an employee of a shipping agent was offering her R70 000 for the release of a container packed with counterfeit clothing to the value of R13 328 318.

The merchandise consisted of shirts, T-shirts and jackets falsely labelled as Billabong , Quicksilver, Puma, Uzzi, Pringle, Adidas Bafana, Jeep, Daniel Hechter and Gucci garments.

The following day the team leader teamed up with a member of the Hawks who is also the overall co-ordinator of Operation Dudula, which was formed with the intention of combating corruption, Mdunge said.

“A trap was then set for the suspect who was liaising regularly with the member of the police.

“She was given authority to accept the bribe, which was dropped from R70 000 to R15 000 by the suspect known by his alias ‘Bob’.

“The date of payment was postponed two times.”

Mdunge said that on Monday, the suspect flew from Pretoria and told the police officer by telephone to meet him in room 1910 in Elangeni Hotel where R15 000 in cash was to be exchanged for the release of the counterfeit goods container.

The meeting took place and at noon the suspect was arrested for bribery.

While they were in the room, a second suspect — the mediator between police and the shipping agent — appeared, unsure of what had occurred. He was also arrested.

The case is under further investigation by Durban’s organised crime unit.

“It is believed that this operation might lead to further arrests of a related nature as the Asset forfeiture Unit and SA Revenue Service enforcement units were included in the operation,” said Mdunge.

The suspects appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Mdunge said the investigating officer had not given him the details of the court case.

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