29/08/07 A generic of a Post Office, Sauer and Main streets JHB CBD. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Cape Town - Police say they have cottoned on to the fact that syndicates are not only smuggling drugs via conventional methods of transport, but are now making frequent use of the postal system.

Police spokesman Andre Traut confirmed recent reports that police have discovered drugs worth close to R1.5 million in parcels since November.

Traut said: “The postal system has become a popular trafficking channel for drug dealers and arrests and seizures have become more prevalent. We are well aware of the methods which are used in this regard, and for this reason we have prioritised our efforts towards the postal system.”

He said that in the latest bust about 20 of the 22 parcels were headed for other African countries or Europe.

He said a man was arrested after picking up a package that was sent from Mumbai and that the package contained 50g of heroin with an estimated street value of at least R150 000.

Since police intensified their operations against drugs at the Cape Town International Airport, smugglers have been using alternative methods of transporting drugs including national roads and the post office.

“The reason for the popularity of this modus operandi is that drug dealers can distance themselves from the received parcel, or claim that they are oblivious of the contents.

“However, these lame excuses are not entertained as facts,” said Traut.

In an incident last month, three men were arrested at a post office in Gugulethu after police found them with a parcel containing R1.2m worth of tik and cocaine.

In another incident at the same post office, police arrested another three men after a parcel containing R112 000 worth of tik was found in their possession.

Traut said most of the drugs being sent through the mail were compressed dagga, cocaine and heroin. He said the police did not yet have statistics on the quantity of drugs being moved through the postal system.

“Our investigations with regards to cases related to the postal system are yet to be finalised and therefore I am not in a position to divulge too much information,” he said.

“The drug trade will remain a top priority, because if we police it effectively, we simultaneously address more serious crimes such as robberies and other property related crimes. No one can afford to support a drug habit on a salary and we believe that at one point or another the user will turn to crime to acquire drugs.”

LeadSA – a collaboration between the Cape Argus, 567 CapeTalk, 94.5 Kfm and Western Cape law enforcement agencies – kicked off operation Drug Watch in November to highlight efforts by authorities to clamp down on the drug smuggling trade and to give readers and listeners a way to report drug peddling in their areas.

Police have arrested 9 451 suspects since Drug Watch was launched.

The total value of drugs confiscated during the last week of 2012 stood at R481 859, and R5 944 168 worth of drugs had been confiscated since Drug Watch was launched, said police.

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Cape Argus