PRETORIA – More than R85 million worth of narcotics was seized at Port Elizabeth Harbour (Ngqura Port) over the weekend following an intelligence-driven multi-disciplinary integrated operation by the Ports of Entry team on a vessel from Ecuador, South America.
The operation was conducted from intelligence that two containers were suspected of having narcotics on board.
The suspected containers were on-board a vessel that had docked in Port Elizabeth at the Ngqura Port. The team which included Customs Investigations, the K9 unit and SAPS Border Police, were duly activated and the process initiated to trace and secure the two containers.
The inter-agency teams worked together and ensured that the targeted containers were removed to the container depot and upon opening the containers it was found that the contents were bananas as described on the bill of lading and which also indicated that the container was destined for Cape Town.
The cartons of bananas were physically checked both inside and outside of the container. Upon inspecting the rear refrigeration unit, a hidden compartment was discovered.
Upon removing some of the panelling the team discovered packages wrapped in brown tape. The panelling was removed and a total of 40 packages, which tested positive for cocaine, were discovered in both the containers. Further profiling was conducted and discovered that there were a further two (2) containers that were linked to the product type and packaging methodology on the same vessel. The team immediately decided to secure the containers. In the early hours of Sunday morning at around 01:00, the sniffer dog reacted positively to the same rear refrigeration panelling as the previous two containers earlier. All role players jointly then removed the panelling and discovered a further 45 bricks wrapped in brown packaging tape which tested positive for cocaine with an estimated weight of 45 kilograms in both containers. A total of 85 bricks with an approximate weight of 85 kilograms and an estimated street value of R85 Million were seized.
High levels of collaboration between stakeholders at the port have once again paid off.
There have been breakthroughs made as a result of the on-going proactive fight against crime especially the proliferation of drugs coming into and through the port. Investigations are continuing.