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Third time unlucky for traffickers trying to smuggle millions of rands of cocaine from Brazil into South Africa

Third time unlucky for traffickers trying to smuggle millions of rands of cocaine from Brazil into South Africa
Police intercepted R65-million worth of cocaine that arrived in South Africa on a vessel from Brazil on 2 November 2023. (Photo: SAPS)

A cocaine consignment from Brazil was recently intercepted at a harbour in Gqeberha. It is the third major bust in South Africa in about three weeks, bringing the value of the drug seized in that time to R215-million.

Yet another multimillion-rand stash of cocaine has been intercepted on a vessel that travelled from Brazil and entered South Africa.

The crackdown is the third similar bust involving cocaine, this country and Brazil in just more than two weeks, which suggests police are acting on information gleaned before the drug reaches this country.

In other drug-busting operations, they recently destroyed drugs worth a collective R800-million previously intercepted around South Africa.

Daily Maverick has reported extensively on international drug channels involving Brazil – it appears that traffickers prefer using maritime routes to push cocaine into and through this country.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Blood ties: South Africa caught in a web of murderous, drug-smuggling Brazilian gangs

There have been several recent busts suggesting maritime routes are still favoured, but that planes are also used to try to smuggle smaller quantities of drugs.

In one of the latest interceptions, the South African Police Service (SAPS) announced that it seized a R65-million cocaine consignment.

Trafficking investigations

This happened at a seaport in Gqeberha on 2 November 2023.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said officers intercepted a vessel as it was docking, after it had entered South Africa from Brazil, and found 35 blocks of cocaine on it.

“No arrests have been made thus far and police are investigating a case of trafficking of drugs,” she said.

“This is the police’s third ‘massive’ drug bust in a space of three weeks. The other two were in KwaZulu-Natal where police seized cocaine worth R150-million.”


On 2 November 2023, police intercepted cocaine worth R65-million on a vessel from Brazil. It is the third similar cocaine crackdown in about three weeks. (Photo: SAPS)

Drugs on another vessel

Daily Maverick reported that on 18 October 2023 that a vessel making its way from Brazil had been intercepted in Durban harbour and R70-million worth of cocaine was discovered on it – several other cocaine confiscations have previously taken place at that harbour.

Read more in Daily Maverick: R70m cocaine seized in Durban harbour months after ‘cartel diver’ boarding SA flight arrested in Brazil

Two days later, on 20 October, as part of follow-up investigations into the shipment of drugs, police discovered another cocaine consignment from Brazil, worth about R80-million.

This means that between 18 October and 2 November 2023, the SAPS intercepted at least R215-million worth of cocaine coming into the country from Brazil.

Authorities in Brazil have also been cracking down there, seizing cocaine that is destined for South Africa.

Brazil to Johannesburg

On Friday, 3 November, Brazil’s federal police announced that various authorities, including the revenue service and highway officers, met to discuss how to strengthen crackdowns on cross-border crimes.

Brazil’s federal police also announced that on 4 November a man from São Paulo had been arrested as he was about to board a commercial flight at Rio de Janeiro International Airport.

It was alleged cocaine was found hidden in dress shirts in the man’s luggage.

He was set to have flown to Dubai and then to Johannesburg.

A drug-trafficking case was under investigation. DM


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