The Mozambican police have arrested a Guinean citizen, named as Mussa Jane, in the northern province of Niassa, in possession of two elephant tusks, weighing 28.5 kilos, according to a report on the independent television station, STV.
The wholesale price of ivory rose from 100 US dollars a kilo in the 1990s to 850 dollars a kilo in 2007. Since then the prices have continued to rocket. This year, prices for mounted elephant tusks in Hong Kong reached the equivalent of 26,432 dollars a kilo. These tusks were supposedly “legal” - that is acquired from elephants shot before the international ban on the ivory trade.
If the tusks in the Guinean's possession were sold for a similar price, they would fetch over 753,000 dollars.
Jane was also found to be carrying precious stones, including tourmalines and amazonites, weighing a total of one and a half kilos. He was also in possession of 135,000 meticais (4,500 US dollars) in banknotes.
The police arrested Jane at a checkpoint in Chimbonila district. He had come from Majune district, and was on his way to the provincial capital, Lichinga. The tusks, stones and money were found inside a suitcase.
Jane claimed that the goods did not belong to him, and he was just carrying them for a friend.
“A friend asked me to take the suitcase to Lichinga. So I put it on the bus and I didn't know what was inside”, he said.
Jane said he was “very surprised” when the police opened the suitcase and he saw what it contained.
“I was never involved in the ivory business”, he said, “I just sell precious stones”.