The amount of drugs making their way in and out of South Africa is clearly on the rise, though it also appears the SA Revenue Service is improving in catching the illicit substances before they can be distributed.
Statistics released to The Star by Sars show that last month it managed to bust 76 shipments of drugs entering through border posts, mailing centres and airports countrywide.
This is almost double the number of busts over the same period last year.
According to Sars spokesman Sandile Memela, 58 of these busts occurred at OR Tambo International Airport, where officials seized just under 600kg of various drugs, worth almost R15 million, in January.
Last year over the same period, only 11 drug consignments were found at the airport, although the value of these drugs totalled almost R10.5m.
Numerous media releases on the drug busts over the past month have credited the Sars Dog Unit at OR Tambo, often responsible for sniffer drugs at customs control.
Overall, Sars has seized more than 760kg of drugs entering and exiting the country in just one month. ”In terms of percentages, there was a 94.9 percent increase in total number of busts, a 52.1 percent increase in the value of busts and a 269 percent increase in weight, for January 2016 compared to January 2015,” said Memela.
But when it comes to drugs being sent through the mail, Durmail in KwaZulu-Natal has the highest number of incidents. There, 2.77kg of drugs worth R377 000 were found in seven packages last month.
Despite Sars’s successes in January, there seemed to be little reprieve for customs officials. On February 1, they discovered more than R500 000 in drugs entering OR Tambo in two incidents.
In the first bust, a sniffer dog intercepted a consignment declared as “Citronella Scented Wax Melts” on their way to Budapest in Hungary. But the candle materials turned out to be 77 blocks of compressed cannabis, weighing more than 77kg, hidden under pieces of soap. The marijuana was valued at R107 800.
In another incident later that day, the dog reacted to a box filled with clothing that was set to be flown to Amsterdam. Officials opened the box and discovered small packets filled with white powder that turned out to be heroin valued at R484 344.
At the Golela border post in KwaZulu-Natal, customs control officials busted a Malawian taxi passenger transporting heroin worth R788 900 into South Africa.
On Sunday, methamphetamine worth R4m was seized at OR Tambo after a skittish 51-year-old man tried to hurriedly make his way through customs.
(Customs) officials who conduct a physical profile of passengers noticed that the man’s small suitcase was too heavy for its size. He said officials then scanned the bag to find that the drugs were visible in the case. (The scan) tests revealed a dense green colour that turned out to be drugs in three black plastic bags that confirmed it was crystal methamphetamine, said Memela.[Source: iol]