Soccer star murder link to excavator cocaine bust
THE execution of former South African soccer star Marc Batchelor may be linked to the failed importation of 384kg of cocaine found in an excavator which local police believe was headed for the NSW ski fields.
Within 24-hours of the news of the seizure of $140 million dollars worth of the illicit drug allegedly shipped from South Africa and the arrest of two men, the 49-year old was shot by gunmen on motorcycles as he was driving into his home.
Local underworld sources in Johannesburg believe he was involved in the shipment.
"It's a lot of money. Now, for that (shipment being detected) apparently someone says a lot of people are going to be killed because of it," said the source.
"Someone snitched. Because of the coke the cops got in Australia or somewhere last week. Of course, someone snitched, how are you going to find something like that in a tractor?" the source close to Batchelor told the Sunday Times in South Africa.
The Daily Telegraph revealed after the arrests the seizure was linked to Australia's biggest outlaw motorcycle gang the Rebels. Neither of the men arrested are known members of the Outlaw Motor Cycle gang or have any involvement in the murder of Batchelor.
News of the drugs being discovered would have leaked back to South Africa on Sunday, July 14 when Federal Police raided the garden supply business in Bungendore near Canberra where the second hand excavator was delivered.
On the Monday night in Johannesburg at 6pm Batchelor was driving into his home when two motorcycles approached his car and pillion passengers opened fire killing him in the drivers seat. His gardener who was in the vehicle at the time was unharmed.
Batchelor played with the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates and once claimed that Oscar Pistorius threatened to break his legs after believing he had slept with his then-girlfriend Samantha Taylor.
Several sources told the Times that South Africa is for the first time being used as a new cocaine smuggling route with Australia, the country where cocaine fetches the highest price in the world, being the target market.
US law enforcement and underworld sources suggest that a criminal network in South Africa had started a relationship with the Juarez Cartel in Mexico to import Cocaine into South Africa.
"Bouncers in Cape Town have been seeing Mexicans come in checking out their firearms. They could see these guys were real narcos, seasoned cartel guys," said the US law enforcement source.
The massive seizure in the excavator follows the arrest of two men in May over their alleged involvement in the importation of cocaine on Qantas planes coming out of Johannesburg.
"We are using the Australian Federal Police's international network to work with South African and South American authorities to better understand the source of the drugs and their path from South America to South Africa and then to Australia,'' a federal police spokesman said.
"We also confirmed that the investigation (into the 384kg importation) is ongoing and we are not ruling out making more arrests,'' he said.
Batchelor was also reported to be involved in ripping of a tonne of cocaine from a Serbian syndicate which is another possible motive for his murder.