Cocaine (powdered form – Hydrochloride) was known as a status symbol during the last
two decades of the previous century and was largely abused by persons with high incomes.
For many years Cocaine was not accessible to the man on the street because of its high
unit price. The high costs of Cocaine ruined various families financially and Cocaine caused
persons to turn to crime, most often prostitution.
Since 1994 South Africa has experienced a drastic increase in the import of Cocaine. This
can be attributed to the influx of immigrants from West and Central Africa, which is currently
in control of the Cocaine market, as well as the saturation of Cocaine on the world market in
especially the United States. In the past years “Crack Cocaine”, known as “Rocks”, has found
its way into the South African market. This made Cocaine more accessible to the abuser
because Crack is cheaper than Cocaine powder. According to the DEA Crack is the fastest
growing drug of abuse in South Africa.
ORIGIN OF COCAINE
The leaves of the Coca plant was used by the Incas in the Andes Mountains of South
America as a stimulant and traditional medicine for illnesses that were associated with work
above certain heights above sea level. Cocaine was produced and used for medicinal
purposes during the second half of the 18th century. Cocaine is derived from the Coca plant
that grows in areas between 500 and 1 500m above sea level in soil that is rich in nutrients,
certain temperatures and climate. It is precisely South America that measures up to the
requirements for the successful cultivation of the Coca plant.
The crime syndicates of South America, especially in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia, are currently
cultivating these Coca plants in an organized way. The Coca leaves are harvested and taken to
laboratories in countries such as Colombia, where it is processed into Cocaine powder by
means of a complex chemical method. This is sold at an enormous profit and dispersed
In countries such as Colombia, it brought the rise of mighty drug syndicates that generated
millions of dollars monthly by means of Cocaine smuggling. A state of war between the policing
agencies, especially the DEA, and the drug syndicates exists up to today.
Thousands of people, such as policemen, informers, judges, politicians and civilian people
have lost their lives during the Cocaine wars.
COCAINE POWDER (Smuggling method)
Cocaine, in powder form, is smuggled into South Africa in any way possible. Experience
obtained during confiscations has shown that the following methods are used:
– False panels of suitcases
– In motor vehicle spares
– Inside ornaments
– Shoe soles
– Aerosol cans
– Cool drink cans
Basically any possible item that is hollow.
A well-known method of smuggling Cocaine, especially by West African citizens, is to swallow
condoms filled with Cocaine. The filled condoms are known as “Bullets”. It has happened that
these condoms have burst in the stomachs of couriers, which led to their deaths.There have
been confiscations by SANAB at Johannesburg International Airport where Nigerians were
arrested that had swallowed 66 to 99 “Bullets”.It happens increasingly that Cocaine smugglers
recruit young South Africans as couriers or as the so-called “Mule”. A lot of these young South
Africans are recruited with promises of large amounts of money that will be paid to them if they
successfully smuggle the Cocaine that is stuck to their bodies or hidden in their suitcases, into
the country.There are various dangers associated with this, such as:
– The courier is used as a decoy – the drug smuggler gives the person a small amount of drugs
to carry and then arranges that the person gets arrested at the airport – this way the attention
is diverted from the main courier that is on the same flight.
– The courier can be arrested in a country where a drug smuggler can be sentenced to death.
The jails in countries such as South America and Asia are in a very precarious condition and a
person’s safety is not guaranteed.
– A person smuggles the consignment of drugs successfully for the drug smuggler but does not
– It has happened that persons were sent to South America and was left stranded because the
transaction one way or the other fell through and the person is left on his / her own without
money or passport.
STATISTICS OF PERSONS ARRESTED ABROAD (June 2001)
North America 145
South America 142
African countries 135
Asia and the Far East 39
STREET SMUGGLING PROCESS
As soon as the consignment of Cocaine is received from the courier it undergoes a cutting
process that is known as “Cut”. The Cocaine that is smuggled into the country is of a high level
of purity and is taken and put through the cutting process. The cutting process is the adding of
certain substances to enlarge the quantity of the Cocaine drastically to make more profit out of
the consignment (1kg Cocaine can increase to 4kg).
Cases were found where Cocaine was mixed with seriously harmful substances such as foot
powder, drain cleaner and Vim etc. In general substances such as Vidol, tooth powder, sugar
and various other starches are used to cut the Cocaine.
The further Cocaine goes down in the smugglers’ hierarchy the poorer the quality becomes.
The reason for this is that each smuggler will cut the Cocaine to reach his own specific