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3 August 2018 – SARS customs makes major busts of drugs and currency within days

3 August 2018 – SARS customs makes major busts of drugs and currency within days

Pretoria, 03 August 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs division made a bust of multiple currency and drugs at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA). This was the latest in a string of illicit/illegal goods busts, valued at close to R15 million.

On Monday 30 July, risks were identified regarding two non-related male passengers, who were possibly in possession of excess currency travelling to Dubai. The travellers were intercepted, attempting to leave RSA and were questioned.

The travellers, in both instances, then admitted that they were in possession of currency. Upon further questioning, the two passengers could not provide explanations or evidence as to how they had acquired the currency. They were escorted off and taken to the Customs control area where their respective luggage was searched.

Upon inspection of the first passenger’s luggage, currency (USD464 650) equivalent to R6 114 794 was found concealed in paper wrapped with brown tape. The currency was confiscated, and the passenger handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigations.

During the inspection of the second passenger, currency (USD 234 000) equivalent to R3 079 440 was found also concealed in paper wrapped with brown tape. The currency was confiscated, and the passenger handed over to the SAPS for further investigations as well.

SARS appreciates the high level of active collaboration between ACSA, SAPS, DHA, Asset Forfeiture Unit (NPA) and the State Security Agency (SSA), which leads to such effective detections and successful prosecutions of passengers.

On 31 July 2018, a shipment from South Africa destined for the UK was profiled for examination at Couriers, when a Customs detector dog reacted positively. The shipment had been declared as ‘Car Parts General’, however, upon physical examination of the contents, a booster charger was found which felt unusually heavy.
The part was X-rayed and square shaped image impressions were observed, which led to the part being dismantled, revealing 15 blocks concealing a white powdery substance which was wrapped with black rubber and foil. The powder was analysed and it tested positive for cocaine. The goods weighed 16kg, which has an estimated value of R4 800 000. The shipment was handed over to SAPS (DPCI) for further investigation.

In another incident, a parcel declared as books, also from South Africa to Australia, was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit when a detector dog reacted positively. Upon inspection, four books were found containing sheets of plastic with a white powdery substance. A drug testing kit was administered and tested positive for cocaine. The goods weighed 2.5kg, which has an estimated value of R750 000. They were handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

Furthermore, on the 28 July 2018, a Brazilian female passenger expelled several “cocaine bullets” with an estimated value of R285 000.  She was intercepted whilst disembarking from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg, and intercepted when the information was received. The passenger was questioned and her luggage was searched with nothing suspicious, however risk indicators suggested that the passenger might be a drug mule. The passenger was taken to the hospital and an X-ray was conducted, which revealed foreign objects in her abdomen. The passenger was handed over to SAPS for further investigation.

In another search, a parcel with no documentation was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, plastic containers concealing 250 Cannabis Heads, with an estimated value of R25 000 were found. The goods were also handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

In another interception, a parcel from South Africa to Dubai was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, a magazine was found concealing two travel documents, valued at R1 400. The goods were handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

Another male passenger disembarking from Addis Ababa to Johannesburg was intercepted. During questioning, the passenger could not verify where he was travelling to. His passport indicated that he had been in Singapore where he obtained his visa. The passenger was taken to the immigration inspectorate office for an interview, where the visa was identified as fraudulent. He was then refused entry into South Africa, and will be returned to his country.

SARS Customs officers, together with rest of the country’s enforcement agencies, will continue to remain on high alert and vigilant at all ports of entries to stem the tide of illicit/illegal goods coming through or out of our borders.

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