The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation deployed an integrated team of experts to execute search warrants in Gauteng in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, on Thursday, 15 August 2019, following months of investigating an alleged rhino horn syndicate.
Three suspects, aged between 45 and 53, believed to be the masterminds behind the rhino horn syndicate were arrested. Two rhino horns with unconfirmed value and two vehicles as well as an amount of over R70 000 were seized during the operation which targeted three premises.
The operation comes in the wake of a year-long investigation by the Mpumalanga Hawks members who successfully infiltrated this notorious syndicate that traffics rhino horns within South Africa and abroad, particularly, the South East Asian countries.
This integrated investigation spearheaded by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Middelburg based members, SANParks, the Department of Environmental Affairs, Financial Intelligence Centre, Asset Forfeiture, Crime Intelligence, Forensic Science Laboratory, Special Task Force, Department of Home Affairs, National Prosecution Authority and Mpumalanga Parks Board demonstrates government's ability to work together in fighting wildlife trafficking in South Africa and beyond.
Several covert transactions were conducted with the syndicate during the investigation which exposed their entrenched links to the illicit rhino horn trafficking in the Gauteng Province. The syndicate worked meticulously and tried to counter all law enforcement actions to protect their dealings, which made it an extremely difficult investigation.
The crime scene investigations are still continuing to unveil the syndicate's operations and additional arrests have not been ruled out. All suspects are expected to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Friday the 16 of August 2019.
The Provincial Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Mpumalanga, Major General Mokoena applauded the sterling work of her members, saying that the members always work hard for fight crime within the province and beyond the provincial boundaries.
The National Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Lt General Lebeya commended the integrated work that lead to the dismantling of this Wildlife Trafficking syndicate.