The Mozambican police last week seized two suitcases containing seven rhinoceros horns at Maputo International Airport before they could be dispatched to Vietnam. The spokesperson for the Maputo City Police Command, Orlando Muumane, told reporters that the suitcases also contained 44 kilos of ivory, and eight kilos of ivory bracelets.
The labels on the suitcases indicated that their destination was Vietnam, and were registered in the name of two Vietnamese citizens, whom the police have not yet been able to locate.
“The suitcases were ready to be transported to Vietnam”, said Mudumane. “They were seized and sent to the competent authorities. As yet there are no clues as to the whereabouts of the owners of the suitcases”.
Rhinos are being driven towards extinction because of the demand for their horns in Asia, particularly Vietnam where it is believed they can cure everything from hangovers to cancer. Black market prices for rhino horn have reached 65,000 US dollars a kilo. The current price of gold is slightly less than 40,000 dollars a kilo.
Also at Maputo airport, the police arrested a 40 year old Polish citizen who was carrying 100 grams of cocaine hidden in a camera.
Mudumane announced that last week the police detained another man accused of involvement in an attempted kidnapping in the outer Maputo neighbourhood of Triunfo. This brings to four the number of people arrested in connection with the case. The first three were detained on the day of the abortive kidnapping, after an exchange of fire with the police.
“This man was detained at his home, in the Mahotas neighbourhood”, said Mudumane. “The police were on his trail; we investigated and found him there”.
The would-be kidnappers used two vehicles. With one of them they staged an accident, banging against the wing mirror of their victim's car, obliging it to stop. They then planned to seize the victim and bundle him into the other car.
This operation was aborted because it was seen by plain clothes policemen, who immediately drew their guns and took action against the criminals.