Pretoria – A police operation has resulted in the arrest of 15 suspects, the seizure of drugs worth R3,5 million and R4 million in cash.

The arrests followed after Operation Damon, in which the drug-trafficking network in East London in the Eastern Cape, was investigated.  Operation Damon conceived in January this year, involved officials from the various police directorates, namely the Hawks, Crime Intelligence, the Tactical Response Team (TRT), Public Order Policing (POP), the Forensic Science Laboratory and the K9 Unit.

In an early morning raid at around 04:00 on Wednesday, 8 July 2015, the team carried out 16 search warrants simultaneously in four East London suburbs, namely Vergenoeg, Parkside, Bramley, Buffalo Flats and a farm in Kei Road.  Out of the 16 search warrants, recoveries were only made at nine addresses.

At one location, the police found R3 million in cash stashed away in a vehicle and further probing led the team to Kei Road, where almost R1,6 million worth of Mandrax tablets were found inside a trailer that had a concealed compartment to store and move the drugs.  Two people were arrested immediately.

In another raid in Buffalo Flats, the police seized R1,3 million in cash, two cash-counting machines, as well as at least 2 800 Mandrax tablets worth more than R1,6 million.  The following successes were also achieved with the operation:

  • Fifteen persons were charged with dealing in drugs, possession of items suspected to have been stolen and possession of drugs.

The following were seized:

  • Cocaine rocks, dagga, methamphetamine (Tik) straws and 41 test tubes
  • A safe with documents
  • R4 300 392,60 in cash believed to be the proceeds of crime
  • A total of 54 378 Mandrax tablets worth more than R3 200 000,00
  • Two cocaine weighing scales
  • Two cash-counting machines
  • Computers
  • Two vehicles: A BMW sedan and one Toyota Corolla
  • Two quad bikes.

Meanwhile, the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service , General Riah Phiyega, congratulated the team on their successful drug-related operation. “The fact that this operation resulted in such a significant seizure of drugs and cash shows the excellent work the police are doing to reduce the influx of drugs in our communities. Criminals need to know that drug activities will not be tolerated in our communities and the results of these operations go a long way in sending that message,” she said.

Acting Head of the Hawks, Major General Mthandazo Ntlemeza, echoed General Phiyega’s sentiments by adding, “Project Damon is another example of the alliance between various police directorates.  This is again a major breakthrough and a great example of what we can achieve when various police directorates cooperate. We will not only arrest those who are involved in this type of organised crime, but we are committed to going further and targeting their illicit profits and assets. Our multifaceted approach involving intelligence gathering, enhanced law enforcement, prevention and intervention, will make a real difference in cracking down on the manufacturing and supply of illicit drugs.”

Investigations continue and further arrests are expected. All the arrested suspects will appear in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Friday, 10 July 2015.