HomeLocal NewsZim cigarette smugglers cause havoc

Zim cigarette smugglers cause havoc

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Beitbridge — The multi-million-rand cross-border cigarette smuggling operations from Zimbabwe are orchestrated by well-organised syndicates who do not hesitate to resort to violence when police and soldiers apprehend them on the South African side of the Limpopo River.

The “runners” carrying the contraband in specially-built rucksacks across the border are paid R150 per run through the river where smuggling syndicates wait for them at pre-arranged rendezvous points along the borderline.

According to inside sources, each runner carries two master boxes containing 100 cartons of cigarettes and sometimes runs a distance of up to 30km through the bush to prevent detection by law-enforcing agents.

One such carton is worth R129 on the black market in South Africa, meaning that each runner carries R12 900 worth of cigarettes per run.

Lt-Col Ronel Otto, police spokesperson for Limpopo, said the cross-border cigarette smuggling syndicates were a “definite and big problem”, but specialised police units regularly achieved successes in fighting this crime.

“Four smugglers were arrested two weeks ago and illegal cigarettes worth R2m confiscated during the operation,” Otto told The New Age.

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