Police in South Africa (SAPS) have confirmed the arrest of six male adults, believed to be Zimbabweans, following the interception of haulage trucks they were using in the illegal, but lucrative cigarette smuggling business.
Reports say the intercepted trucks contained cigarettes worth millions of South African Rands, which included various brands such as Remington Gold, Chelsea, Royal Express and Premium.
The criminal sextet was nabbed in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, following a joint intelligence operation involving officers from SAPS and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
“Six suspects were arrested after the integrated team discovered the suspects in the process of loading boxes of illicit cigarettes onto a number of trucks, which were allegedly going to be dispatched to a destination yet to be confirmed,” partly reads a statement from SAPS.
“Preliminary reports suggest that the crime scene at an industrial site in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, was being used as a distribution point where alleged traders and in this case, the six arrested suspects, would collect the illicit cargo for further distribution and sales,” said the policing service.
The case is expected to be taken into the hands of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) as possibilities of more arrests have not been ruled out.
Welcoming the arrests of the six criminals, Gauteng police commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela implored on investigators to decisively deal with the crime in the pursuit of curbing it’s prevalence.
The arrests come after police in the neighboring country recently recovered cigarettes worth over R2,4 million, leading to the arrests of 20 suspects accused of smuggling the commodity from Zimbabwe into South Africa.
According to Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, the recoveries were made between June 8 and June 16 during an operation to curb the interdicted smuggling of the cigarettes along the border.
Brigadier Mojapelo said the suspects were charged for illegally dealing in cigarettes and contravening sections of that country’s Customs and Excise Act.