The City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) has unveiled a new specialised K9 narcotics unit in its war against narcotics in South Africa’s largest city.

The core functions of the sniffer dogs unit will also include finding explosives, counterfeit goods and stopping hijackings and robberies. The unit will, however, focus on drug-related crimes in hot spot areas during the first 100 days after its launch.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said here Monday that by establishing the unit, the city was sending a clear message that law enforcement would relentlessly pursue drug dealers using the intelligence at its disposal.

At the same time, the city would also put in place drug prevention and treatment programmes and work closely with communities through awareness and education, said Mashaba, who described drug abuse is a scourge with serious implications for community safety.

“For years, our city has been plagued by crime and drugs. Lives have been lost, families have been broken, communities torn apart and people left broken-hearted and hopeless. As a parent, I have had enough of how drugs are destroying the lives of many of our young people. Communities have had enough and the city cannot ignore their plight.”

The JMPD looked at the best performing officers with the highest level of integrity to fill this K9 Narcotics Unit while 19 dogs had been purchased and were currently undergoing intensive training and assessment in explosive and narcotics detection.

“Today we declare war on drugs and the drug lords. There will be no safe haven for drug lords in Johannesburg,” said Mashaba.

Meanwhile, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said Monday that a woman was found with cocaine worth 2.9 million Rand (about 200,000 US dollars) at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

The woman, who was travelling from Brazil, was intercepted at the airport on Sunday and found to have 10.405 kilogrammes of cocaine.

According to the SARS, she was travelling to Maputo in Mozambique and claimed that she did not check in any luggage.

“The passenger was escorted to the Customs inspection area where it was found that she had checked in luggage with nine handbags that carried narcotics. The woman has been handed over to the South Africab Police Service for investigation and prosecution,” said the SARS.