JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Customs officials at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg today announced two major busts of crystal meth valued at over R29 million (USD $2.11 million) in total‚ that had been concealed in passenger baggage and as a consignment of hair pieces.
South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs officers at the airport have been making significant busts as part of intensive weekend and daily operations over the past few months. The biggest bust so far was in August‚ when 125.4kg of liquid methamphetamine with a street value of R37.6-million was found.
Earlier today‚ Customs officials at the airport discovered crystal meth worth over R18 million hidden in three bags which had arrived from Lagos‚ Nigeria.
“Vigilant Customs officials noticed the bags on the carousel which were each marked with green tape. It seemed that their baggage tags had been tampered with‚ indicating they belonged to different passengers. However‚ none of the labels corresponded to anyone on the flight‚” SARS said in a statement.
“The bags were then sent for scanning‚ using the new high-tech baggage scanner‚ which was installed at ORTIA in July this year. The image revealed what seemed to be dense blocks inside the bags. When the bags were opened‚ Customs officials discovered hairpieces covering several small square parcels wrapped in foil and cloth.”
The 17 packets‚ which contained crystal meth‚ were handed over to the SAPS for further investigation and possible prosecution.
Subsequently‚ also today‚ Customs officials at the cargo section inspected several shipments declared as hair pieces from Lagos.
“The shipment had arrived on 12 September‚ but the agent and client constantly delayed the inspection until today‚ when Customs officials found two bags‚ containing back packs and sports bags‚ hidden amongst the consignment‚” SARS said.
After a SARS detector dog reacted positively for drugs‚ an inspection found false bottoms in the bags‚ concealing 35‚4kg of crystal meth‚ valued at R10‚6 million.
“These are major busts by SARS Customs who implement daily inspections at all Ports of Entry in an effort to foil the smuggling of prohibited goods‚” the agency said. “SARS will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies to protect the country and its citizens by disrupting organized crime and reducing illicit trade activities.”
In July‚ the SA Police Service disclosed that drug couriers with a special taste for cocaine powder‚ would-be immigrants with fake documents‚ smuggling and rental car theft were amongst the crimes being fought by joint security forces at the OR Tambo International Airport.