PICS: 'Sophisticated' dagga lab busted in posh Cape Town suburb

2019-07-31 12:28
The Hawks have busted a dagga lab. (Hawks)

The Hawks have busted a dagga lab. (Hawks)

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Western Cape Hawks have busted a large dagga lab in the affluent Cape Town suburb of Constantia.

The agency's Narcotics Enforcement Bureau and police Crime Intelligence conducted a raid on a house and discovered the drug lab.

"These guys are quite sophisticated. They read up on these things and know how to grow it indoors," Hawks spokesperson Captain Philani Nkwalase told News24 on Wednesday.

He said that the Hawks had carried out the search and seizure operation on Monday.

READ | Joint operation: Cops help woman chase man who 'stole' her bag, only to find 10 parcels of dagga inside

"During the search, the team found cannabis oils, dagga plant materials and seeds, as well as cannabis extracting equipment and chemicals. Computers and the lab equipment, as well as a total of R180 000 in cash - suspected to be the proceeds of crime - were also seized and are subject to further investigation."

'Working tirelessly'

No arrests had been made but investigations were ongoing, said Nkwalase.

Hawks officials, in conjunction with Police Crime

Hawks officials, in conjunction with Police Crime Intelligence, have busted a sophisticated dagga lab in Cape Town. (Hawks)

Hawks officials, in conjunction with Police Crime

Hawks officials, in conjunction with Police Crime

Hawks officials, in conjunction with Police Crime

The elite law enforcement agency has made a number of hydroponic lab busts recently.

In early July, the Hawks found a lab in an old Piketberg church hall with plants estimated to be worth R700 000.

In Palm Beach Harbour Island, located in Gordon's Bay, the Hawks found a hydroponic laboratory in February.

READ MORE | PICS: Holy smokes! Lab with dagga worth R700 000 found in old church hall in Piketberg

Nkwalase attributed the busts to an increasing demand for dagga and other drugs, as well as improved policing.

"Our guys are working tirelessly to fight, not only dagga, but all drug-related issues.

"It could possibly also be a result of the [court] judgment, so that when dagga is fully legalised... that could be the assumption, and enticing more people to get involved."

The Constitutional Court ruled in 2018 that private and personal consumption of dagga is not a criminal offence. However, it did not rule on the selling and distribution of dagga, which remains an offence.

"The right to privacy is not confined to a home or private dwelling. It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private space," Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said at the time, although the court did not specify how many grams constituted "private use".

Strategy

Nkwalase said that the hydroponic labs were clearly intended to deal in dagga and highlighted the difficulty in tracing them.

"We're talking about farms and suburbs, where you'd find that the house is not even suspect."

In some cases, even the people living in the houses had no knowledge that there was a dagga lab in the residence, Nkwalase added.

He revealed that the Hawks had a strategy to find growers and dealers.

"It's a great work by our team. At the end of the day, you have to have clients that you must supply and that's where we come in - our investigation would begin there."

A 2007 paper by the Human Sciences Research Council put the cultivation area for dagga in South Africa at 1 000ha to 1 200ha and user rate at 12.8% for boys (13 – 19 years old) and at 7.5% for girls.

Adult use of dagga was calculated at 2%, with more men using (4.4%) than women (0.3%).

Major recent Western Cape Dagga lab busts

Month

Location

May 2018

Somerset West

July 2018

Plettenberg Bay

December 2018

Mikpunt, Klipheuwel (44km west of Paarl)

February 2019

Palm Beach Harbour Island, Gordon's Bay

March 2019

Table View, Cape Town

July 2019

Piketberg (130km north of Cape Town)

Source: Western Cape Hawks

 

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Read more on:    hawks  |  cape town  |  crime
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