Eight more arrests in international drug smuggling probe by Hawks

Eight more suspects allegedly linked to an international cocaine smuggling network between SA and Brazil were expected to face drug smuggling charges in the Belville magistrate’s court on Tuesday after handing themselves over to authorities.

The Sunday Times reported in August that the 60ft Ke Nako — a luxury yacht worth R16m and linked to the same investigation — had been seized by police. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Allan Swart

They were arrested in an ongoing probe by the Hawks, Australian Federal Police and the FBI that followed a R400m cocaine bust on a highway in Gauteng last year.

The driver of a bakkie, towing a ski boat, was pulled over on the N1 in Pretoria on June 2 2021. A search revealed 805kg of cocaine hidden in the boat’s hull.

The Sunday Times reported in August that the 60ft Ke Nako — a luxury yacht worth R16m and linked to the same investigation — had been seized by police. It had been abandoned at its moorings at the upmarket Victoria & Alfred Waterfront marina in Cape Town. At that time, eight suspects had been arrested.

“The extensive joint investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Australian Federal Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation led to more arrests and seizure of property used in cocaine smuggling,” Hawks spokesperson Col Katlego Mogale said on Tuesday.

“Eight arrested suspects will be appearing in the Bellville magistrate’s court on preliminary charges of dealing in drugs.”

They had been identified as additional suspects in the ongoing probe.

“A bakkie, trailer, three boats and a rubber duck with a combined value of more than R18.6m; seized drugs and cash … have been forfeited to the state,” said Mogale.

“Sixteen more targets, including an alleged kingpin who is also sought in Belgium, have been identified. The investigation is ongoing.”

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