The Hawks have arrested 16 suspects and seized R18.6 million worth of assets in a bust to take down one of the country’s major drug syndicates.
The suspects, who are part of the cocaine smuggling cartel between South Africa and Brazil, were all arrested on Tuesday.
Early in the morning, the Hawks arrested eight suspects in the Western Cape, before a further eight handed themselves in later on the day..
The bust was the latest development in a months-long joint investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), Australian Federal Police, and the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The first eight suspects who were arrested later appeared in Bellville Magistrate’s Court on preliminary charges of dealing in drugs.
The suspects David Michael Banister, 52, Allister William Jackson, 33, Marinus van Niekerk, 31, Jacobus Hendrik Slabbert, 41, Mario Mark Joseph, 44, John Frederick Roodman, 47, Andre Welgemoed, 44, and 42-year-old Anthony Trevor Tarrs all are expected back in court in on 8 November for a formal bail application.
The others – Rafiek Baderoen, Rashied Baderoen, Michael Norman, Tenikaitis Valdas, Jaco de Kock, Izak Strbydom, and Hugh Stam – handed themselves over to the police on Tuesday.
They are expected to be back in court on 6 December 2022.
The Israeli national, Ahmed Isa (also known as ‘Mickey’), along with two Lithuanian nationals, Donates Jukna and Jonas Zulpa are still at large.
More arrests and seizures of properties used in cocaine smuggling are imminent.
The first eight suspects’ court cases were postponed to 8 November 2022 where they will be appearing in the Pretoria Magistrates court for formal bail application.
Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale confirmed the arrests.
“Sixteen more targets including an alleged kingpin who is also sought in Belgium have been identified,” said Colonel Mogale.
“The investigation is ongoing.”