A week of perlemoen busts: An explosion, a secret alcohol stash and 127 years in jail

2017-06-01 14:02
Expensive alcohol, including whiskey and champagne, was seized in a perlemoen-related raid in Cape Town. (Supplied)

Expensive alcohol, including whiskey and champagne, was seized in a perlemoen-related raid in Cape Town. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – An explosion inside a home and the discovery of a stash of expensive alcohol, including whiskey and champagne, have marked a week of intense perlemoen busts carried out around the Western Cape.

Several perlemoen smugglers have also been handed jail sentences, totalling 127 years behind bars, this week.

The busts and jail terms have involved at least R25m worth of perlemoen.

In one of the latest raids, expensive alcohol was discovered in a Stikland home on Tuesday.

This, as a result of an investigation into R5m worth of perlemoen found in Brackenfell the day before.

Police spokesperson Andre Traut said that in the Monday incident, two members of the K9 Unit had noticed a white Mercedes Benz van parked outside a fast food outlet in Old Paarl Road, Brackenfell.

Two "nervous" men had walked away from the vehicle.

Traut said the officers had noticed the driver of a Land Rover arrive, park alongside the van, get into it, and drive off.

This driver was ordered to pull over.

"A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of 60 bags filled with abalone," Traut said.

A 53-year-old man was arrested for the illegal possession and transportation of an excessive amount of dry perlemoen.

The expensive alcohol stash was discovered the following day.

Whiskey, champagne, red wine

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said, following the man’s arrest, investigations had led members of the K9 Unit to a warehouse in Stikland which was linked to him.

"They discovered boxes of liquor comprising expensive whiskey, champagne and red wine, possibly destined for export," he said.


(Picture: Supplied)

"The liquor, valued at R300 000, was seized."

Further charges relating to this were set to be lodged against the man.

Explosion

In a sting operation on Sunday, perlemoen worth R2.8m was discovered in a home in Montclaire Road, in Sybrand Park, Cape Town.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said officers had gone to the house after a neighbour alerted them to an explosion there.

She said when officers had arrived there, they found a man and woman, both aged 53, suffering from burn wounds.

They were rushed to hospital.

A 52-year-old woman was arrested.

"Police conducted an investigation on the scene and found plastic containers and buckets containing abalone," Rwexana said.

R20m worth of perlemoen, links to China

Hefty jail terms were handed down in a major perlemoen smuggling case on Tuesday.

Western Cape Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said the four convicted in the matter were sentenced to a collective 127 years in jail in the Khayelitsha Regional Court.

They faced charges linked to exporting, processing and possessing perlemoen, as well as fraud and money laundering.

The case stretches as far back as 2010.

"The group’s illegal operations were brought to an end when the Hawks pounced on their Vredenburg and Table View premises in a search and seizure operation during July 2010, resulting in their arrest," Ramovha said.

"About 98 981 units of abalone valued at approximately R20m [and] various equipment were seized."

He said further investigations had led to two containers being shipped back from China.

127 years imprisonment

Abri Felipe Bucchianeri was sentenced to 38 years in jail, and would serve an effective 23 years.

Another accused, Sean Kruger, was to serve the same effective sentence.

Cecil George Kruger was sentenced to 38 years imprisonment, of which he was set to serve an effective 18 years behind bars.

A fourth accused, Busonbenkosi Matera, was to serve an effective 10 years in jail, after being sentenced to 13 years imprisonment.

Ramovha said the company used to export the perlemoen, Virdon Trading CC, was fined R400 000.

Murder

In January, suspected perlemoen kingpin Russel Jacobs, 30, who has been linked to some high-profile gangs and perlemoen cases in the province, was shot in the stomach and back.

Jacobs, who some insist was a police informant receiving kickbacks from two senior officers in exchange for information, died in hospital the next day.

Following his murder, several sources with ties to the police said the killing had resulted in some linked to Jacobs providing police with information.

This, they said, had in turn resulted in several perlemoen busts.

Along with 15 other accused, Jacobs was to have appeared in a Cape Town court on March 27 in a long-running case for allegedly heading up a major perlemoen smuggling operation.

An undercover crime intelligence agent had infiltrated the alleged syndicate eight years ago.

Read more on:    hawks  |  cape town  |  smuggling  |  gang violence  |  crime

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