Police on Thursday arrested three people alleged to be the masterminds behind a rhino poaching syndicate in Gauteng.
The Hawks said it deployed a team of experts to execute search warrants in Johannesburg after a rhino horn transaction was concluded with the syndicate members.
Three premises were searched. Two Chinese nationals and a Taiwanese man – all aged between 45 and 53 – were arrested.
“Two rhino horns (with an) unconfirmed value and two vehicles, valued at R700,000, were seized during the operation,” Hawks spokesperson Capt Dineo Sekgotodi said.
She said the law enforcement team also recovered about R70,500 from the premises.
Sekgotodi said the operation came after the conclusion of a year-long investigation led by the Hawks in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, which successfully infiltrated a notorious Chinese syndicate trafficking rhino horns from South Africa to South East Asian countries.
She said several transactions over a period of a year were conducted with the Chinese syndicate.
Sekgotodi said the syndicate worked meticulously and tried to counter all law enforcement actions to protect its operation, which made it an extremely difficult investigation.
The three suspects are expected to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on Friday.