R400m in cocaine, a ski boat and special FBI cellphones: How Pretoria coke bust went down

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Neil Pieter Van Zyl, along with his co-accused, a Lithuanian national, Valdas Tenikaitis appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court during a previous sitting.
Neil Pieter Van Zyl, along with his co-accused, a Lithuanian national, Valdas Tenikaitis appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court during a previous sitting.
News24/Alex Mitchley
  • Five of six men linked to the R400-million cocaine bust in Pretoria in June have applied for bail.
  • According to the State, the accused have been linked to one another through their use of ANOM devices.
  • The devices are cellphones created by the FBI and were used to monitor criminal networks unbeknown to them.

Six men arrested following the discovery of R400 million worth of cocaine in Pretoria were linked to one another through the use of encrypted cellphones, created by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to monitor criminal syndicates.

Neil Pieter van Zyl, Michael Norman, Rashied Baderoen, Rafiek Baderoen, Jaco de Kock and Lithuanian national Valdas Tenikaitis appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. 

Five of the accused, except for Tenikaitis, have applied for bail. 

The State, in opposing bail, called the investigating officer to the stand to testify. The investigating officer gave the court a background in how the suspects were linked to the cocaine bust and subsequently arrested. 

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The investigating officer said he had received information locally and from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that a large haul of cocaine was to be moved from one safe house to another in Gauteng. 

Further information indicated that the cocaine was being moved by an international syndicate and was bound for Australia. 

Following surveillance, Van Zyl was arrested on the N1 near Pretoria in a bakkie that was towing a 12-foot ski boat on 2 June.

An estimated 805kg of cocaine was allegedly found hidden in the ski boat. 

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The investigating officer said five of the suspects arrested had made use of encrypted cellphone devices, whose communications had been intercepted. 

He explained that these cellphones were created by the FBI in 2018. Criminal syndicates thought they were receiving secured devices, but this was a trojan horse as the FBI and AFP covertly distributed the devices to criminal networks. 

He further said that the ANOM devices were not available to the general public. 

The ANOM devices, to the knowledge of criminal syndicates, were designed to keep identities a secret, automatically deleted encoded messages and had a self-destruct function. 

"These devices only became active in SA in late May 2021 this year," the investigating officer testified. 

The investigating officer testified that its believed Van Zyl had one of these ANOM devices on his person at the time of his arrest. This will be verified by the FBI or AFP. 

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The other suspects are also accused of using these devices, but did not have them at the time of their arrest. 

The investigating officer said they were able to use the ANOM device GPS and physical surveillance to link the accused to the devices. 

As a result, communication between the accused had also allegedly been intercepted. 


One such communication was revealed in court, with the investigating officer alleging that Van Zyl and Norman, who is said to have been a manager of the syndicate, communicating about the presence of certain vehicles outside one of the safe houses. 

The investigating officer said the two were talking about the vehicles and were worried that it was either police or robbers looking to steal the cocaine.

Communications also allegedly revealed that Norman and Rashied were actually monitoring Van Zyl as he allegedly tried to move the cocaine from a safe house in Kyalami to another house in Pretoria East. 

READ | 3 in court for R400m cocaine ski-boat bust

The communications allegedly spoke about how they drove past Van Zyl after he was pulled over by police. 

There was also communication about a meeting Norman, Rashied and De Kock had to discuss what went wrong after the bust and who had leaked the information, the investigating officer said in court.

Tenikaitis, Rafiek, Rashied, Norman, Van Zyl and De Kock are facing charges of dealing in drugs and conspiracy to deal in drugs. They were all arrested in June.

Three suspects are still on the run according to police. The bail application continues.

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