A routine check led to the confiscation of drugs with the street value of R17.4-million when police stopped and searched two vehicles outside Cradock at the weekend.
The mandrax tablets and dagga were thought to be destined for Port Elizabeth.
Police first found the dagga to the street value of R1.4-million in a bakkie on Saturday night. Minutes later, another bakkie was discovered with the mandrax tablets, valued at R16-million.
Police spokeswoman Brigadier Marinda Mills said officers stopped the first bakkie at about 11:30pm.
“The Cradock officers stopped a white Toyota Hilux bakkie travelling in the direction of Port Elizabeth, and on the back they discovered 23 bags of dagga, with a total weight of 486.2kg,” said Mills.
Two suspects, aged 25 and 27, were arrested and the bakkie was confiscated.
While still on the scene, a second bakkie – a white Mitsubishi Colt – was also stopped after police noticed the canopy was too small for the long wheel-base bakkie.
“Officers became suspicious and due to poor light on the scene decided to continue the vehicle search at the station. Upon searching the bakkie further, they found a hidden compartment in the canopy,” Mills said.
Inside the compartment, officers found 200 000 mandrax tablets, neatly packaged in plastic bags. A 45-year-old suspect was arrested and the bakkie was confiscated.
All three suspects are expected to appear in the Cradock Magistrate’s Court later this week.
According to Mills, the two busts are being treated as separate cases at the moment, but officers are investigating the possibility that all three suspects are linked.
“At this stage, it is also unclear where exactly the drugs were coming from and what the destination was but we are hoping to answer these questions as the investigation progresses,” said Mills.
Eastern Cape provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga commended the Cradock officers for the bust.
“The police in the province are committed to the fight against the proliferation of drugs,” said Ntshinga.