N4 drugs sting drama

2014-11-06 00:00

TWO owners of a popular Florida Road nightclub were arrested in a dramatic sting that saw the police seize ecstasy tablets worth R85 million.

Five men were held on Tuesday night, and two of them, South African Gregory Ayres (45) and Bulgarian Valari Nikolov (41), appeared in Middelburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

A team of investigators from the National Crime Intelligence Unit, the National Investigation Unit (NINU) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) arrested Ayres, a co-owner of the nightclub, and Nikolov at Middleburg Toll Plaza on the N4 in Mpumulanga.

Police said the men were allegedly found in possession of ecstasy tablets with a street value of up to R85 million, a total of 600 000 tablets, which were being transported in a light delivery vehicle destined for Durban.

The arrest led police to a house in Konigkramer Street, Westville, where Lyris’s business partner and two of his employees were arrested.

Police recovered precursor chemicals commonly used to make drugs, especially cocaine.

National South African Police Service spokesperson Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said police found a large quantity of powdered chemicals that are suspected to have been used to manufacture illicit narcotics.

They arrested the owner of the house and his two employees.

Police said the drugs and chemicals seized had been sent for forensic analysis and charges would be determined and the suspects formally charged once the results had been received.

“The other men will appear in court on Friday, once the tests come back from the laboratory.”

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said that, while the police did excellent work in making the arrests, their success could not be measured on one operation.

“We need to ask how it is that these drugs are brought into the country. Are they being manufactured in houses in Westville, Gillitts or Kloof, as we have seen recently in KwaZulu-Natal,” asked Kohler Barnard.

Police earlier this year raided a Kloof house and found R20 million of narcotics. Initially, police said they had seized R3 billion worth of heroin.

Drugs worth R6,5 million were discovered, among saris from India, at King Shaka International Airport on October 24.

In February this year, 1,6 kilograms of cocaine was found strapped to the body of Jo-Anne Efne Farrell, who had arrived on a flight from Dubai. The street value of the recovered cocaine was more than R540 000.

That same month, Eugene Brits (43) was arrested at uShaka Airport, allegedly with 1,5 kilograms of cocaine taped to his body. He had been travelling on a flight from Sao Paolo to Durban.

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