Close-Up Shot of Drugs in a Plastic
Close-Up Shot of Drugs in a Plastic. MART PRODUCTION/

Customs officials at OR Tambo International Airport seized R37 million worth of drugs, including crystal meth and fentanyl, disguised as molded artwork.

South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said in a statement that customs officers came across a cargo last week that was supposed to reach New Zealand. During the inspection, they found drugs in the box.

The criminals used molded artwork to disguise drugs, but the customs authorities' narcotics test kit helped to find crystal meth, which weighed 10 kilograms. Fentanyl, on the other hand, weighed 13 kilograms.

"Sars customs will spare no effort in stopping the export or import of narcotics or any illegal substance which cause so much pain and hardship for families, particularly the youth," Kieswetter said, IOL reported Sunday.

"Drug smugglers must know that our Customs Division is fully committed to this objective, and will act without fear or favor against those criminals involved in the drug trade. They must know that they will face the full might of the law," the commissioner added.

Last month, customs officers caught cocaine worth millions in three different sessions of inspection at Durban Harbor. It was worth R151 million.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the container arrived from Brazil to South Africa at that time. "A multidisciplinary team inspected the container at a cold storage facility and found 433 blocks of cocaine disguised in meat boxes," Mathe said.

In October last year, the South African Police Service (SAPS) seized R80 million worth of cocaine at the Dube Trade Port after tracking several containers coming to Durban Harbor from Brazil.

Last year, the South African police caught a ship in Durban with 378 kilograms of cocaine worth R1.3 billion.

According to a new United Nations report, smugglers have increased the use of maritime routes to supply drugs via South Africa since the COVID-19 pandemic.