Operation Rambo nabs men linked to global abalone syndicate
Aron Hyman | 2017-05-26 12:27:14.0
File Photo of a prison jail cell.
Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock
Four Zimbabweans‚ linked to an international abalone smuggling syndicate‚ have been sentenced to two years imprisonment.
The men entered into a plea bargain with the state and were given reduced sentences in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
To date the Hawks have arrested 14 people connected to the syndicate‚ including two Chinese men believed to be the “managers” of the South African arm of the syndicate.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said that the operation – code-named “Rambo” – started in February with raids on premises across Cape Town.
“The quartet have been in custody since their arrest and after realising that they were facing an insurmountable case following thorough investigative work‚ they elected to enter into a plea bargain with the state resulting in their early conviction and sentencing‚” said Ramovha on Friday.
The Zimbabwean men will be deported after serving their sentences and declared “unwanted persons” as they also pleaded guilty to being in South Africa illegally.
The multidisciplinary operation between various law enforcement agencies resulted in the seizure of R13.8 million of abalone ready for export.
“The syndicate was well organised. It had a processing facility with equipment for drying abalone and a van for transporting the scarce shellfish. It is likely that they have exported tons of poached abalone.
“In terms of the recovered abalone‚ we believe it’s a tip of an iceberg‚ but we are pleased that we are on the verge of extinguishing yet another syndicate‚” said Ramovha.
It has been reported that poached abalone is exchanged on the international black market‚ not only for cash but for other contraband such as drugs‚ which is sold to users in South Africa.