Sars dogs sniff out coke

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iol pic wld cocaine sep 23 REUTERS

Cape Town - SA Revenue Service anti-drug operations proved highly successful in October, with staff and drug detector dogs sniffing out over R7 million worth of cocaine, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan revealed on Friday.

A further R3.5 million in illegal cigarettes was seized.

Replying in writing to a parliamentary question, Gordhan boasted the effectiveness of the Customs Modernisation Programme, which had provided improved risk analysis since 2009.

Gordhan said October 26 proved very fruitful, as several seizures were made at two border posts and at a Sars export section.

During the random inspection, a parcel from Buenos Aires via South Africa to Maputo was intercepted.

“Upon inspection clothing with a strong odour of vinegar, covered in yellow stains was found,” said Gordhan.

A narcotics dog was sent to the scene to confirm officials' suspicions on the odour and abnormal weight of the clothing.

“The dog (April) gave a positive indication for narcotics.”

Further tests proved the clothing was soaked in 600 grams of liquid cocaine with a street value of R163,260.

On the same day, crime intelligence officers tipped Sars off about a truck carrying illegal cigarettes across a border post in Limpopo.

“One truck... (appeared) empty. However, upon thorough inspection it was discovered that it had false compartments in which 3450 cartons of various cigarettes were concealed,” said Gordhan.

The cigarettes were worth over R400 000.

Also on October 26, a motorist was arrested after 790 packets of cigarettes were found hidden in the door panels, the dashboard, behind the front head lights, and in the engine compartment of his car at a border post.

On October 22, man's best friend - this time a German Shepherd named Monty - helped his handlers detect three kilograms of cocaine.

The drugs were found concealed in a laptop.

Another form of cocaine, which appeared on the face of it to be a “black rubbery substance”, was discovered on three men arriving in South Africa on a flight from Buenos Aires.

“The black cocaine (also known as Coca Negra) was found concealed in the lining of the three men’s jackets, in the soles of two pairs of sandals, as well as in the lining of a duvet found in (their) luggage,” Gordhan said.

The close to 11kg of the drug had a street value of R5.5 million.

Earlier the same month, Sars customs officials seized R3 million in smuggled cigarettes.

The cigarettes were hidden in a fuel tanker and its trailer, which had been “cut open, filled to almost 90 percent with the cigarettes, resealed, welded shut, and repainted before proceeding to the border post”.

Last year, Sars recorded over R2.6 billion worth of illicit goods, which included drugs, cigarettes, rhino horn, and illegal clothing and textiles. - Sapa


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