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865 SA smugglers behind bars
Elsabe Brits

Cape Town - There are 865 South Africans in prisons across the world for trying to smuggle drugs from South Africa into foreign countries.

According to police, syndicates canvass these so-called drug mules to smuggle drugs out of the country.

The mules receive between R20 000 and R50 000 for their trouble, depending on the type and amount of drugs they smuggle.

Superintendent Ronnie Naidoo said the swallowing of condoms filled with drugs was still the preferred method of smuggling drugs.

Seventy of the 107 drug mules arrested last year had swallowed the consignments.

Naidoo said mostly middle-aged, white people, who were financially unstable, were targeted by the syndicates.

They are regarded as a lower risk, and they can travel as tourists or businessmen. However, people of all racial groups have been arrested.

Cocaine comes in from South America

Dagga is popular because it is of high quality. Overseas, it sells for 30 times more than it does locally.

Naidoo said dagga, especially, was smuggled to Britain and Europe. In these countries, dagga was often exchanged for ecstasy, which was then brought back to South Africa.

Cocaine was often smuggled from South America via South Africa to Europe.

Naidoo said mostly West Africans, especially Nigerians, made use of drug mules.

Ronnie Mamoepe for the department of foreign affairs said there were 118 South Africans in Brazilian prisons, 70 in Peru and 36 in Venezuela.

He said two men arrested in Bali last year, were not South Africans.

John Gabrielle, 37, and Martin Christopher Akuyabi, 40, were arrested in a hotel in August last year with a kilogram of heroin.

Akuyabi was sentenced last week to life imprisonment.

Mamoepe said that although the men carried South African passports, they were not South African citizens.

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