13 arrested in drug and stolen car syndicate takedown

2018-01-25 22:44
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (File, Netwerk24)

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (File, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – Thirteen people, including five "kingpins", have been arrested after an undercover police operation cracked open a syndicate moving drugs and hijacked vehicles, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday.

"These criminals have been masquerading as normal and honest business people who own buses, taxis, butcheries and farms," said Mbalula in a statement following the arrests.

"They are respected people of the community while they are destroying the future of our kids. We can't stand [idle] while the future of our kids gets destroyed."

"Operation Damage" involved undercover officers working in the "belly" of the underworld as they investigated dealers in Mandrax, tik and other drugs in operations from Cape Town to King William's Town, East London, Mdantsane, Peddie and Port Alfred.

Drugs were initially transported by buses and taxis owned by a "target" in Cape Town or Gauteng, and then distributed to locations in the Eastern Cape.

This changed, and the syndicate switched to using their own and hired vehicles.

'Now the shift is to the kingpins'

Speaking in a green pasture in the Eastern Cape with cows in the background, and a suburb in the distance, Mbalula said the police have shifted focus to catching the kingpins who organise and finance these activities.

He had conducted a walkabout at a drug den that was disguised as a farm where criminals were known to bring stolen vehicles and traffic drugs. 

"Now the shift is to the kingpins, the real mastermind, the guys who plan the operations, the people who are in charge of criminality in our country, [while] many of our youth are in jail because they are serving time on their behalf while they enjoy the fruits of their criminality," said Mbalula in an interview broadcast on Periscope.

"Who could have thought there is criminal operations going on here? You think people are doing the right thing, they are not. They are busy with criminality."

National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole said at the same briefing that those involved were contaminating society.

The police investigation would establish whether there were any deaths associated with the vehicles that had been hijacked.

Police had so far seized Mandrax tablets and tik bought in undercover operations and vehicles that had been hijacked.

Read more on:    fikile mbalula  |  crime

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