Pretoria, 12 August 2015 – Ephedrine worth over R1 million was discovered hidden in lace embroidery at the OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) mail centre this week.
On Tuesday, 11 August, SARS Customs officials conducted random inspections at the ORTIA mail centre, where a parcel, which arrived from India and destined for Johannesburg, was searched, containing several items of lace embroidery. After further investigation, Ephedrine was discovered hidden inside the lace packages. The Ephedrine weighed 3,45kg in total, worth a street value of R1 035 000.
The parcel and narcotics were handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigation.
This follows several successful busts by SARS Customs in the last two weeks at several Ports of Entry. These include:
- 6 August 2015, Lebombo: Customs officials discovered 4979 pairs of counterfeit shoes with an estimated street value of R 3.9 million at the Lebombo border post. The shoes were discovered when Customs officials stopped a truck entering South Africa from Mozambique for inspection. Documentation handed to officials indicated that the truck was transporting empty crates. Upon inspection of the crates, officials discovered the shoes wrapped in plastic inside the crates. A case has been opened with the SAPS for further investigation and the driver of the truck is now in the custody of the SAPS.
- 4 August 2015, Golela: Customs officials discovered 2,12 kg of heroin, estimated at
R429 451 when the laptop bags of two travellers entering South Africa from Swaziland were inspected. The two suspects and the suspected drugs were handed over to the SAPS for arrest and further investigation.
- 29 July, ORTIA: Approximately 13,3 kg of crystal meth valued at approximately
R4 million was discovered in a bag of a passenger arriving from Abu Dhabi. The passenger was initially stopped by officials and requested to retrieve her bag from the baggage carousel for inspection. The passenger attempted to depart from the airport but was apprehended by customs officials. The bag was scanned by officials using one of SARS Customs’ new high-tech baggage scanners. The scanner identified an additional extra density lining within the bag which was inspected leading to the discovery of the drugs. The passenger and her belongings were handed over to the SAPS for arrest and further investigation.
- 28 July, ORTIA: During an inspection at the mail centre Customs officials discovered 3kg of Ephedrine valued at about R900 000 hidden with leg pads used by cricketers sent from India.
- 27 July, ORTIA: A woman arriving on a flight from Madagascar was stopped by Customs officers while departing the customs area through the “nothing to declare” channel. An inspection of her bags resulted in officials discovering 6kg of heroin worth R1.8million. The passenger and her belongings were handed over to the SAPS for arrest and further investigation.
- 27 July 2015, Golela: Customs officials discovered 2.5kg of heroin valued at approximately R720 000 while inspecting the laptop bag of a male and female traveller coming into South Africa from Swaziland. The suspects were handed over to the SAPS for arrest and further investigation.
These are amongst the major seizures by SARS Customs who implement daily inspections at all points of entry in an effort to foil the smuggling of prohibited goods and close the gap of illicit financial flows. SARS will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies to protect the country and its citizens by disrupting organised crime and reducing illicit trade activities.