07 January 2005

Pastor arrested in perlemoen bust

A professed man of the cloth was one of several people arrested on two separate operations on Thursday on the Cape Flats when police seized 14 tons of perlemoen and one kilogram of cocaine among a large quantity of illicit goods confiscated.

Addressing the media on Thursday, provincial police commissioner Mzwandile Petros said the pastor was close to the 28s prison gang, having been called on a number of occasions to testify on behalf of criminals in court proceedings.

"He portrays himself as a man of the cloth," said Petros.

The pastor was one of four people from Blackheath arrested in an operation started in November last year when police identified two perlemoen storage facilities.

Besides the 14 tons of perlemoen valued at about R7-million, police also seized R10 000 in cash, a freezer trailer, 10 fridges, a 10 ton truck and two vehicles.

Police also confiscated drugs valued at about R150 000.

The four face charges of illegal dealing in marine resources, alcohol and drugs.

In a separate police operation, police arrested three men and two women from the Bellville, Parow and Surrey Estate areas.

During this operation, which had been ongoing for about 12 months, police seized one kilogramme of cocaine valued at about R230 000, uncut diamonds with an estimated value of R450 000 and R104&*nbsp;900 in cash.

According to Petros the significance of this bust was that one of the suspects arrested - allegedly a "prominent" member of the 26s prison gang and affiliated to the "Americans" street gang.

This man allegedly played a central role in the drug trade in the Cape Town city centre.

The five were expected to appear in court on Monday.

Petros said more arrests in both operations were expected, with police also investigating links to international crime cartels.

He said the two operations once again showed the "close link" between the perlemoen and drug trades.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Community Safety MEC, Leonard Ramatlakane, welcomed the arrests.

"Our integrated law enforcement agencies will take them down one by one," he said in a statement.

Ramatlakane said the courts were also applying the letter of the law, and were sending those convicted under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act to jail "in an exodus".


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