Three Bulgarian men found guilty of one of the biggest drug busts in South Africa have been sentenced to a collective 60 years imprisonment, a report says.
Police tactical forces led by Western Cape organised crime narcotics unit detectives seized a huge haul of R583m worth of cocaine from a fishing vessel off Saldanha on March 1 this year.
Four Bulgarian nationals and six suspects from Myanmar were arrested and charged with dealing in drugs during the raid, Times Live reported at the time.
#sapsHQ National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla Sitole has lauded the police in Western Cape for seizing cocaine valued at over R500 million from a fishing vessel on the Saldana coast on the evening of 1 March 2021. TM pic.twitter.com/aMABtF1mNh
— SA Police Service 🇿🇦 (@SAPoliceService) March 2, 2021
An “extensive” intelligence-driven operation saw tactical forces descending on the vessel where 973 blocks of compressed cocaine were found in three compartments, the report said.
A News24 report on Sunday said the three men – Mario Radoslavov Vasev, Asen Georgiev and Atanas Mihaylov Bikov – who were sentenced over the weekend also had assets worth R46.5 million forfeited to the state.
They were also found guilty of entering South Africa illegally using fake documents.
“This is the second largest cocaine seizure in South Africa. It is a clear example of an international organised crime syndicate in operation. The illegal trade in narcotics is a prevalent and serious offence. It has ties to gangsterism and other crimes, and therefore, has a huge negative effect on social economic circumstances of communities as a whole,” News24 quoted state prosecutor, advocate Aradhana Heeramun as saying.
The state withdrew charges against one Bulgarian man and against the six Myanmar men.