Pubdate: Wed, 25 May 2005
Source: Pretoria News, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2005 The Pretoria News
Author: Graeme Hosken


South Africa is gearing up for an onslaught against the world's drug 
cartels. This was revealed at the launch of an international drug fighting 
programme in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The programme, which is being run and sponsored by the French government, 
will see police officers from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, 
Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania, Mauritius and Reunion Island, being taught 
how to take the fight to drug traffickers.

The narcotics trade in South Africa, which is a major transit route for the 
world's drug trade, and its neighbouring countries is believed to earn the 
world's drug syndicates billions of dollars every year.

For the next two weeks, narcotics officers will be placed in real-life 
scenarios where they will undergo intensive training on how to fight drug 
trafficking syndicates.

The training will see police officers taught how to conduct surveillance 
operations, identify drug smugglers and uncover clandestine drug laboratories.

Armed with photographs of their targets, narcotic officers yesterday took 
to the city's streets in the first day of the programme.

Following "drug runners", police officers had to monitor their movements 
while ensuring they remained unseen until they could make the arrest.

Senior Superintendent Devan Naicker, national head of the South African 
Police Service.

Organised Crime Unit's drug office, said there had been a large increase in 
the amount of narcotics being seized in South Africa, "which indicates that 
more and more drugs are coming on to the market".

"It is paramount that if we are to win the war against drugs, we continue 
to hold exercises like these," he said.

Naicker said an important aspect of the exercise was that it brought 
investigators from throughout the region together and lead to the 
establishment of a network of crime fighters.

"This network will give us the 'information and weapons' needed to destroy 
these drug syndicates," he said.

Endorsing Naicker's view, Assistant Commissioner Pascal Augrain, the French 
regional policing attache to southern Africa, said it was vital that 
crime-fighting networks were established to bring an end to the drug trade.

He said South Africa had an important role to play in the fight against 
drug trafficking.

"It is important that we provide police from South Africa and its 
neighbours with the necessary training so as to close these trafficking 
routes," he said.
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