The Directorate of Priority Crime (Hawks) on Tuesday said they had seized cocaine coming from Brazil with a street value of R720 million in the Port Elizabeth docks.
The bust was made at the Port of Ngqura, Coega Harbour, and netted 706 kilogrammes of the drug packed into one-kilogramme bags.
The operation took place over a period of 12 days and the cocaine was seized on Monday.
At a media briefing on Tuesday in Struandale, National Head of the Hawks Advocate Godfrey Lebeya said the value of the cocaine could have built an entire village.
“The cartels would have benefited financially when the ones losing would be intoxicated.”
Lebeya said the cocaine was concealed at the bottom floor of the ship below more than 3,369 containers in a 30-level ship.
“The crooks were determined to ensure that nobody would detect this. This was designed to evade detection,” he said.
Lebeya said the cargo was loaded into the ship in Brazil. It was meant to dock in Singapore before reaching its final destination in India.
The operation was undertaken by the Hawks with assistance from Interpol both locally and internationally.
Other role players included SAPS, crime intelligence, border police, customs, Coega Port Management, Criminal Records, and the Darkwater Ops K9 Unit.
Because the alleged crime involved more than one country, it falls under transnational organised crime.
Lebeya said it was an ongoing investigation between authorities in Brazil, India, and Singapore.
He said the ship itself was not seized after investigators were “satisfied that the company transporting this commodity were not involved”.
Approximately 60 containers carrying the drug were however confiscated.
He added the uncut cocaine would now be examined by experts for the completion of a full forensic report. Thereafter the drugs would be destroyed.
No arrests have been made.
“The cartel themselves won’t be travelling with the ship. They loaded the cargo as far as Brazil where this thing started,” Lebeya said.
– African News Agency (ANA)