Police minister urges Hawks to stop international drug syndicate market network

The suspects linked to a R400-million drug bust on the N1 highway in Pretoria remain behind bars after a bail application appeal was recently denied by the Gauteng North High Court.

 Minister Bheki Cele. Photo: Sinesipho Schrieber

An internationally linked drug syndicate, such as the Pretoria N1 highway ski-boat R400-million cocaine bust, is a serious security concern, police minister Bheki Cele has said.

Addressing the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) officers at the handover ceremony for 88 new vehicles in Silverton, Pretoria on Tuesday, Cele implored the Hawks to stop the international drug market network making inroads in the country.

“This thing of the world finding a new market of serious drugs in South Africa must be stopped,” he said.

Pretoria was in the spotlight last year when a R400-million drug bust, which is internationally linked, was made on the N1 north highway in Centurion, on June 2.

The Hawks found 800kg of compressed pure cocaine hidden in a haul of a ski-boat and a 39-year-old, Niel Pieter van Zyl was arrested.

At the time Van Zyl was arrested on the highway it was alleged that he was moving the drugs from Kyalami, Midrand, to a house in the east of Pretoria.

Pretoria R400-million drug bust. Photo: Hawks

The American-based Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operation Trojan Shield, Australian Federal Police (AFP) operation Ironsides as well as the Hawks’ South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (SANEB) were behind this bust.

According to the AFP, its global sting operation Ironside traps organised crime syndicates trafficking illicit drugs and weapons to Australia through use of a dedicated encrypted communications device, named Anom. The device was used by the FBI and AFP and the two agencies leaked information to the Hawks which led to the Pretoria bust.

The FBI details that criminals purchased more than 12 000 Anom encrypted devices and unknowingly led the law enforcement to an international web of organised crime.

Screenshot of FBI

The last arrest was that of a 48-year-old Jaco de Kock in August last year at a warehouse in Asla Park, Cape Town, which was identified as a storage facility used by the syndicate.

De Kock, Van Zyl (39), Rafiek Baderoen (44), Rashied Baderoen (48), Michael Norman (38) and Tenikaitis Valdas (57) remain behind bars as they were denied bail application appeal by the Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria on March 31.

The case was postponed to June 17.

DPCI head Lieutenant General Advocate Godfrey Lebeya followed by DPCI Deputy National Head, Lieutenant General TC Mosikili.
Israeli national, Ahmed Isa also known as Mickey sought by police in connection to drug syndicate case. Photo: Hawks
Lithuanian national Jonas Zulpa sought by the Hawks.