Organised crime figure ‘Mr Invisible’ is arrested

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Organised crime figure ‘Mr Invisible’ is arrested

Graeme Hosken | 2017-01-30 11:15:00.0

File photo of a box with excluded non-standard cigarettes as seen at the cigarette-maker Philip Morris International Inc. in Kutna Hora

‘Mr Invisible’ is wanted in connection with the hijacking of 50 British American Tobacco cigarette trucks between 2012 and 2016. Photo file.

Image by: PETR JOSEK
/

REUTERS

South Africa’s “Don of cigarette heists” is behind bars after he was arrested at his Mpumalanga hideout.

The man – whose name is known to TimesLIVE – was nabbed as he was about to leave one of his many South African safe houses to cross into Mozambique.

It’s in Mozambique where police believe he runs his command centre‚ ordering operations not only in South Africa‚ but also throughout the rest of southern Africa.

Nicknamed Mr Invisible‚ the man is wanted in connection with the hijacking of 50 British American Tobacco [BAT] cigarette trucks between 2012 and 2016.

The hijackings have occurred in Gauteng‚ Mpumalanga‚ KwaZulu-Natal‚ Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

Police are also investigating his links to other BAT truck hijackings in North West Province‚ Western Cape and the Northern Cape.

A police source‚ with knowledge of the investigation‚ said DNA recovered from the different crime scenes had linked the suspect to 50 hijackings.

“His operations are like a spiderweb. If you look at a map and all the places where the attacks took place‚ it’s exactly like a web‚” said the officer.

He said detectives had been on the suspect’s trail for years‚ “but he has always managed to stay one step ahead”.

“That’s why we have nicknamed him Mr Invisible. Detectives would get close to him‚ sometimes within a few kilometers‚ but he would always somehow vanish into thin air.”

He said the man was arrested as he was preparing to leave his brother’s home‚ which he had apparently used as a safe house for several months.

“If they had arrived minutes later he would have been gone. That’s how close it came to arresting or losing him‚” the police source said.

Captain Johannes Ramphora‚ spokesman of Springs police station‚ whose detectives have been leading the investigation‚ confirmed the suspect’s arrest.

“They got him just in time‚” he said.

He said the suspect would appear in court soon on 50 charges of hijacking and armed robbery.

Ramphora said detectives investigating the suspect were now searching for the man’s accomplices.

“We believe he has a vast network across the country. He doesn’t just operate with one team‚ but many. That’s who the detectives are going after now.”

– TMG Digital/TimesLIVE



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