Pubdate: Fri, 17 Jun 2016
Source: Herald, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2016 The Herald
Author: Shaun Smillie


SARS has been hitting the "narcos" hard of late, with a number of 
large drug seizures, but no one seems to know its actual effect on 
South Africa's war on drugs.

Since the beginning of the year the men, women and dogs of SARS have 
netted millions of rands worth of drugs at several ports of entry.

At the beginning of the month, SARS officials seized drugs worth 
R9-million in two incidents.

At the Lebombo border, officials seized 51 bags of ephedrine and 14 
bags of crystal meth from hidden compartments in a car. The drugs 
were believed to be worth R7-million.

At OR Tambo International Airport, cocaine valued at more than 
R1-million was found in toilet cubicles on two separate flights from Brazil.

On Monday, customs officials and a dog unit found 30kg of cocaine 
valued at R9-million. The cocaine was found in a tagless black bag 
that arrived on a fight from Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Inside were pieces of carbon paper, a green duvet and 30 sealed 
blocks of cocaine.

While SARS had seized millions of rands worth of drugs, working out 
its effect on the narcotic trade in South Africa was difficult, 
University of Cape Town criminologist Mark Shaw said.

The problem was that no one knew how big the drug market was in South Africa.

"Seizures are more a measure of police activity," he said.

However fellow UCT criminologist Simon Howell said that using the 
principle of supply and demand, more drug seizures should cause the 
price of illegal substances like cocaine to increase.

He said he had noticed that over the last four months the price of 
cocaine in South Africa had increased slightly.

"We don't know if this is from the rand sliding, or it might be from 
seizures," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom