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Africa's biggest ever drug bust at Beitbridge

EVIDENCE: Police show the heroin to reporters
EVIDENCE: Police show the heroin to reporters

Zim woman held in India with 2kg heroin

Foreign drug gang busted in Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter

SOUTH African police seized heroin Tuesday worth nearly US$100 million in what the United Nations said could be the biggest-ever bust in Africa and one of the largest in the world.

The 47 sackloads of the drug, weighing a total of 1,363 kilogrammes (about 3,000 pounds), were discovered in a secret compartment in a lorry that had crossed South Africa's border from Zimbabwe, said Captain Dennis Adriao.

The heroin was discovered during a routine search by police and customs officials near the Beitbridge crossing.

"The truck and trailer were empty but on closer inspection, police members discovered a false compartment. Police narcotics dogs also reacted positively to the false compartment," Adriao told AFP.

"On opening the compartment, police found 47 bags each weighing 29 kilos of yellowish / pink powder. Sample tests were done on site which revealed that the powder was heroin."

More detailed tests on the packages were being done to confirm the nature of the find beyond doubt.

Adriao said the total street value of the haul was 750 million rand (98.5 million dollars / 67 million euros).

Two South Africans, including the driver of the lorry, were arrested and were expected to be charged with drugs smuggling.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said the bust was "indeed huge".

"1.3 tons would be definitely the largest heroin seizure ever made in Africa," UNODC policy analysis and research branch official Thomas Pietschmann told AFP.

"The largest heroin seizures in Africa, which we have on our database, amount to just 51 kg; the largest single seizure officially reported by the South African authorities to UNODC amounted to just 3.6 kg."

Pietschmann said only ten previous single seizures, all in Pakistan, had exceeded the find reported by South African authorities on Tuesday. - AFP
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