South Africa:SAPS bust pair attempting to smuggle R2m of rhino horn to Vietnam
Two suspects will be hauled in front of a judge in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, this week, after SAPS found 10 pieces of rhino horn in their possession.
Two rhino horn smugglers were caught ivory-handed at OR Tambo Airport on Tuesday night, as SAPS officers were able to stop the Vietnam-bound passengers from reaching their intended destination.
The pair – aged 36 and 40 respectively – were intercepted by law enforcement following an intelligence exercise that zeroed in on the suspected poaching operation. Their luggage was searched before they could get to the check-in desk, and they were found to be in possession of R2 million’s worth of the illicit items.
Rhino horn smugglers set to face court
Both suspects will appear at Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court this week, on charges of smuggling. SAPS Lieutenant Colonel Katlego Mogale praised the investigation officers for foiling another major criminal plot. He also expressed his pride at the way each unit worked together to bring these characters to justice.
“This is one of many successes in the ongoing war against endangered species and wildlife crimes in the country. The arrest comes after an intensive and thorough investigation by the members of the multi-disciplinary team at O. R. Tambo International Airport.”
“The partnership of the different stakeholders involved in this never-ending challenge is vital, and it continues to yield positive results. Successes such as this, are a culmination of efforts that form part of the revised strategy that has been implemented at the OR Tambo International Airport.”
Ivory smugglers busted at OR Tambo
The bust comes less than three weeks after a joint operation involving the police and South Africa’s tax officials was able to prevent a whopping R23 million’s worth of rhino horn from leaving the Johannesburg-based airport. Customs officials detected the shipment using sniffer dogs. The consignment was set to leave for Dubai.
The K9 teams worked with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and found 36 pieces of rhino horn in a packag marked “decoration items”. The horns were hidden underneath laminated wooden sheets and doormats.
SAPS encourage anyone with information about rhino horn smuggling to call their Crime Stop number, on 0860010111. Callers may remain anonymous and all information will be treated with strictest confidence. The people of South Africa are urged to continue supporting police efforts against these types of operations.
By Tom Head (The South African)