A stroke of luck led to the discovery of a full-blown manufacturing lab on a plot in Vlakfontein after a fire broke out at the pre-mises on Sunday morning.
“Fire officials responded and had to force open the gate to the house – finding the laboratory. Four suspects – three men and a woman – were seen running from the scene,” said Benoni police spokesperson Captain Mack Mngomezulu.
Between two and three tons of the drug – most of which was still being dried on the property’s tennis court before being packed into pill form – were seized.
The police also seized sophisticated lab equipment used to ma-nufacture the drug, he said.
“I think this may well be the biggest bust on the East Rand, but the value of the drugs could be more; it could be less. This will be determined by testing at a forensic laboratory in Pretoria,” Mngomezulu said.
No arrests had yet been made. The police are investigating the identity of the owner of the pro-perty, and whether the four esca-pees lived at the premises.
Mandrax’s active ingredient, originally prescribed as a sleeping pill in the sixties in the US before it was banned in the seventies, is known for its sedative-hypnotic effects.