Why Port Elizabeth gangsters had R3 million worth of poached abalone

JULY 7, 2015

An SA Police Service-driven Operation Fiela effort that targeted Port Elizabeth's Northern Areas, over the weekend, could have lifted the lid on how local gangsters are working hand-in-glove with abalone poaching syndicates operating in the Nelson Mandela Bay.

Among the several arrests that were made, police also seized abalone, valued at R3 million, at two separate premises in Gelvandale and arrested two suspected gangsters and confiscated an illegal firearm. Drying equipment used to get the abalone ready for smuggling were also found in the houses.

Abalone is an edible snail-like, single-shell gastropod found in coastal waters around much of the globe. 

While many gangs may not have an interest in abalone poaching, as they may not have access to the equipment and the black market connections to sell the highly-priced animals, they are understood to be, instead, providing security services for local poaching syndicates – according to insiders quoted in a local paper.

Just like with drug gangs, abalone poaching syndicates reportedly also rob and steal from one another.

To cut losses and protect their smuggling operations from rivals, these syndicates were increasingly turning to organised gangs, who oversee the transportation of the abalone to safe houses. Some of the syndicates have operations in both the Western and Eastern Cape provinces.

Still, some gangs were also diversifying into the lucrative trade to supplement revenue from drug peddling – by poaching, processing and smuggling their own abalone. This can turn a few thousand Rand from other criminal activities into several hundreds of thousands of Rand, which then can be laundered to support the gang's other activities.

Around 17 different gangs are believed to be operating in the Northern Areas, eight of them operate in Helenvale while nine maintain territories in the Gelvandale area. Every opportunity to bring in extra revenue is a chance to rise above the competition.

Read more on this: 

WEEKEND OPERATION FIELA RAIDS TARGET PORT ELIZABETH'S GANG LANDS

GANGLAND PORT ELIZABETH: FOUR VICTIMS SHOT IN LESS THAN A WEEK