Pretoria :  A joint intelligence-driven operation between the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime fighting units, including the Hawks made a breakthrough today in its efforts to curb drug dealing, when five people, including a senior police officer suspected of being part of a drug trafficking syndicate operating in and around the Johannesburg area were arrested.

The 51-year-old colonel was arrested just after he reported for duty at Sophiatown Police Station this morning. The other four suspected drug dealers aged between 29 and 63 were arrested in Westbury, Newclare and Reverlea areas of Johannesburg. The pre-dawn operation between the Crime Intelligence Unit and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) is aimed at rooting out corruption, especially within the ranks of the SAPS.

It is alleged that the senior police officer, who was in charge of Visible Policing operations from the Sophiatown police station had a corrupt relationship with the suspects. Intelligence and  Investigations revealed that he was helping the suspected drug dealers betray their clients and evade police arrest.

It is alleged that after a client purchased drugs from the suspects, they would give the police officer a tip-off. The police officer would then organise a raid on the clients, seize the drugs but free the clients in exchange for a bribe. The drugs would then be taken back to the suspected drug lords who would also pay the police officer a bribe for returning the loot of drugs. The alleged criminal activities took place in Johannesburg areas, including Eldorado Park, Westbury, Newclare and Reverlea.

The National Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega, in her efforts to professionalize the SAPS has enhance the capacity of the Crime Intelligence Units throughout the country which is bearing fruit now.

“As much as it is appalling that a senior officer of our organization is alleged to be involved in such horrendous deeds, I am ecstatic that our people were able to identify him and others and bring them to account”, said General Phiyega.

The five suspects are expected to appear in the Johannesburg and Roodepoort Magistrate’s Courts soon, facing charges of drug dealing and corruption. More arrests are imminent.