Ten suspects, aged between 25 and 56, are expected to appear in the Bellville and Cape Town Magistrates’ Courts respectively after they were found with just more than 22 000 units of dried abalone valued at almost R4 million, in the Western Cape, police said on Tuesday.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said the arrests were made when several raids were carried out at suspected abalone drying facilities on Monday.
“The raids were simultaneously carried out at six different private dwellings around Durbanville, Plattekloof, West Beach, Atlantic Beach, Table View and Parklands, the said premises are reportedly linked to the ring leader who is amongst the arrested in this investigative project termed ‘Rambo’.”
Captain Ramovha said the properties had been under surveillance by the elite unit for some time.
“The resultant search led to the arrests and confiscation of about 22010 units of dried abalone valued at almost R4 million, equipment, as well as two vehicles and undisclosed amount of cash,” he said.
Western Cape acting provincial head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) Brigadier Mzwandile Ndlovu praised the investigation team for their efforts.
“The onslaught on syndicates that continue to perpetrate abalone smuggling and related transnational crimes is on. We shall not slack in carrying out our constitutional mandate which also embraces protecting our environment. Perhaps it is time perpetrators gather that they are actually swimming against the tide,” he said.
The suspects will appear in court on February 15 and will be charged with contravening the Marine Living Resources Act.