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South Africa Seeks Air Support as Cocaine Washes Up on Beaches

Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The South African Police Service is increasing its presence along the southern Cape’s coast line, an area known for its beaches and great white sharks, after almost $10 million of cocaine washed ashore.

“We are increasing visibility by means of our deployment on sea, as well as on land, and we are trying to get air support as well, either by helicopter or airplane, to patrol the seas,” police spokesman Malcolm Pojie said by phone from the town of Knysna today.

Four batches of cocaine bricks, weighing about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) in total, have been found on beaches or just offshore since Dec. 25 near Mossel Bay in an area about 343 kilometers (213 miles) east of Cape Town where thousands of South Africans are spending the summer holidays, Pojie said. The latest find was on the beach between Klein Brak River and Hartenbos on New Years’ Day.

“If the results are positive that this is pure cocaine, it could have an estimated value of about 100 million rand,” or about $10 million, Pojie said.

Each batch of about 25 cocaine bricks was sealed in a black bag and attached to a blue drum, which helped it to float, Pojie said. While the origin of the drugs is not clear, it’s possible that a passing ship dropped the cocaine in the sea for someone to pick up, he said.

“The finds were sent to our laboratory in Cape Town to be analyzed and tested and that can of course assist us to determine the origin of the drugs,” Pojie said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rene Vollgraaff in Johannesburg at rvollgraaff@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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