BREAKING NEWS

Over 600 South African drug mules languish in foreign prisons

Of the more than 600 South African drug mules and drug traffickers, almost half of these are in jails in South America.

This week, five South Africans were arrested in Sao Paulo on allegations of drug trafficking. They are being detained, pending investigation by South African and Brazilian authorities. Two of the five were allegedly found in possession of a total of 21kg of cocaine destined for the South Africa market.

The latest recorded figures from the Department of International Relations reveal that 619 South Africans are in foreign jails for drug trafficking. But department officials said at least twice as many people did not inform embassies, meaning the likely figure could well be over 1 500.

South America is regarded as a drug capital, as 90 percent of the world’s cocaine supply is derived from there.
Colonel Devon Naicker, head of the narcotics division in the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, said South Africans from all race groups were serving jail terms abroad for drug trafficking. The highest concentration was in South America, particularly in Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. Naicker said a relatively new country involved in drug trafficking was Mauritius, with a ready supply of heroin. There are about 30 South African drug mules imprisoned in Mauritius.

Neighbouring states in the past three years, said Naicker, had gone from being transit routes to major drug markets, boosting South Africa’s role as a drug trafficking hub.
Naicker said a 32-year-old SA cocaine mule was murdered in Peru last week, shortly after being paroled. Another died in a Brazilian jail this month. (September 2015)

Although aircraft passengers remained the most common method of drug smuggling, West African gangs – “predominantly Nigerian networks” – were targeting air crew, often offering three times the person’s salary for one delivery.
He said vulnerable people, desperate for a job, were also targeted. “A person is promised a job… promised a ticket to one destination, then rerouted and asked to fetch a parcel. By that time the person is already so involved, they feel threatened or desperate, and go along with the plan. When they arrive at their destination, they are met by someone and later given a suitcase with instructions… at this stage the person knows exactly what is going on.
Whether they have the option to opt out, we don’t know. As a courier, a person can earn, depending on the amount of drugs they bring into the country, about R70 000 a time. Most of the drugs come in through our international airports in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, and are destined for those major cities as well as the smaller ones.”

Naicker said the maritime industry was also exploited in the drug trade. “Drugs from China, Senegal, Pakistan, India and other hubs come in ships hidden in containers in huge amounts. Recently, we found more than seven tons of cocaine in a fishing vessel.”

Another modus operandi was girls being lured by men on Facebook. “These men chat with them, become friends, gain the girls’ trust, and then use them as drug mules to smuggle narcotics.” Most of the recruiters are from Nigeria and South Africa. “The men offer the girls paid holidays to Japan, China, or South America, asking the girls to carry bags or packages… we are advising these internet-savvy, university-aged girls to think before accepting such holidays and gifts. Such things always come with strings attached.”

A month ago, Naicker said, they discovered a transaction involving 20 people recruited in South Africa, to transport 20kg of dagga each to the UK. Ten of them were arrested.

Annette Hübschle, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said an “explosion” in the use of hard drugs in neighbouring countries had boosted drug volumes moving through South Africa “It’s a remarkably sudden and distinct trend: countries to the west, including Namibia and Angola, have developed markets for cocaine, and eastern countries, especially Tanzania, Mozambique and Mauritius, are now heroin-use countries,” she said.
Naicker said a 32-year-old SA cocaine mule was murdered in Peru last week, shortly after being paroled. Another died in a Brazilian jail this month.

COMMENT : “There are very divergent contrasting views on these individuals who are caught trafficking drugs and facing the consequences of local law, even the death penalty. Irrespective of viewpoint, these are lives that, just as the end substance users locally, who desperately need salvation, repentance, healing, and forgiveness from our Lord God, Jesus Himself. Only He can bring true and complete deliverance. May our prayers be directed towards all who suffer in this scourge of substance abuse.


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