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Police in Mozambique detained two men, one a Tanzanian, on Friday morning, in possession of seven pieces of ivory weighing in total 45.5 kilograms, and 3.7 kilograms of semi-precious stones.
The seizure of the illegal merchandise from a NAGI Investiments bus took place at Checkpoint 2 on National Highway One (EN1) in Murupula district, northern Nampula province.
The ivory and semi-precious stones were discovered in a sack of corn during a routine police check on a bus travelling from Sofala capital Beira to the city of Nampula, capital of the province of the same name.
Nampula PRM provincial command spokesman Zacarias Nacute said the two suspects, a driver of Mozambican nationality and the collector, were being detained at 1st Squad headquarters.
“Until now, it has not been possible to ascertain the provenance of the products, as the individuals have not yet spoken about the case, but the police are working on getting more information,” Nacute said.
The suspects meanwhile deny any involvement in the case and say the merchandise belongs to another passenger who slipped away during the police search, abandoning his luggage. According to the suspects, this individual was heading for the Alto Molocué district in Zambézia.
“At 4:30, a man appeared with a sack saying he wanted to travel to Nampula. When we arrived at the checkpoint, the police stopped us and began to do the search. During the search the owner of the sack got out of the bus and fled. (…) At the same time, we informed [the police] that he had a bag in the vehicle, and when they opened it, they found the stones and took us to the police station, the arrested driver said.