ABALONE or “perlemoen” poaching helps drive the drug trade in South Africa.According to South African police officials, foreign firms send South African drug dealers the raw ingredients for methamphetamine in exchange for the illegally harvested shellfish. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Port Shepstone police were conducting vehicle searches at the Oribi Toll Plaza when they arrested a 46-year-old man from Willowvale in the Eastern Cape who was found in the possession of a plastic crate filled with pieces of abalone. Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Zandra Wiid said the police officials from the 10111 response centre saw the suspicious vehicle with Eastern Cape plates and pulled it over. The driver was the sole occupant and he had a licenced pistol, a magazine and nine rounds with him in the vehicle. “Upon searching the vehicle the members found a plastic crate filled with abalone pieces. “He was then escorted to the police station. His car and gun were confiscated, as well as the 655 pieces of abalone with a weight of close to 60kg, and street value of R90 000,” said Wiid.She said that upon investigation, it was established that the abalone was being transported to Durban. “The man will be charged under the National Bio Diversity Act, Act 10 of 2004, section 57 and will appear in court soon. The Port Shepstone DPCI: Organised crime unit will continue with the investigation.”In February, News24 published an article warning of the increase in illegal poaching of abalone from South Africa, with the shellfish pouring into Hong Kong.The report said wildlife trade monitoring groups released a statement just before the Chinese New Year, estimating that 65% of South African abalone was imported to Hong Kong in 2015, which was unlawfully harvested and trafficked.The high-end delicacy is popular at Lunar New Year feasts and weddings. The report said Hong Kong remains a key regional hub for both the legal and black market wildlife trade.