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Pretoria - Police have bust a second drug lab in the city in less than a fortnight, uncovering two storage units that held copious quantities of chemicals used in making drugs and a variety of equipment, such as mixing bowls, gas masks and fans, in a self-storage complex in Willow Park.
On August 30, in a joint operation, SAPS crime intelligence officers and the Hawks raided a three-bedroomed house in West Park that was also used as a drug laboratory. They found drugs and chemicals for the manufacture of millions of rand in drugs.
On Monday, police found sculptures of cats that contained ephedrine - a chemical that can be used to make methamphetamine - in the Willow Park units, which are the size of a single garage.
The chemicals seized are thought to have a potential street value of R5 million.
Captain Kabelo Marumo, from the provincial SAPS head office, said that in a bust at a drug lab in Monument Park in 2011, police found drugs were also hidden in sculptures.
SAPS spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed that the statues used in the Monument Park laboratory were the same as those found in the Willow Park units.
Three people were arrested in the Monument Park bust, he said. He was not sure what had become of the case.
“I’ll have to follow up on that,” he added.
In that case, the police believed the criminals were using the sculptures to traffic the drugs out of the country.
The owner of the Willow Park complex called the police at about 10am to report that the people renting the storage units had not paid rent for months, Marumo said.
When police went to the complex to investigate, they found the units packed with the chemicals and drugs.
“The people were manufacturing pills and powders,” Marumo said.
“We’re not sure [what drugs were being made]. We’re waiting for forensics.
“It looks like the final product was kat.”
No arrests had been made in the case.
The people renting the units could face charges of possession of and dealing in drugs.
The owner of the complex declined to speak to the media.
In one of the garages, two plastic tubs were found containing crystals that one forensic investigator believed to be crystal meth, commonly known as tik.
Other chemicals found in the garages were toluene, methanol, acetone, caustic soda and iodine.
In the West Park case, the two law enforcement agencies had been keeping an eye on the suspect, who had been renting the house for about 18 months.
The SAPS is to investigate whether there is a link between the Monument Park, West Park and Willow Park labs.
It will also try to establish whether they are part of a single syndicate.
Marumo said the police were in possession of an identity kit of the people who were renting the Willow Park units and would use the information to track them down.
You may SMS the SAPS anonymously at 32211 or call 086 001 0111 with any information relating to the cases.
Asked if the fact that drug dealers had evaded arrest in two of the latest three incidents did not suggest that the dealers received tip-offs from people within the police force, Marumo said: “I won’t be able to confirm that because I don’t know.
“The SAPS is a big organisation.” - Cadet News Agency - Pretoria News