Ivory poaching ‘kingpin’ arrested in Mozambique
MAPUTO: Mozambican and Tanzanian authorities have made a major breakthrough with the arrest of an alleged notorious leader of an ivory poaching network.
The suspected kingpin, Mateso Albana Kasian, has been wanted for years for the slaughter of thousands of elephants in both countries.
His arrest in Mozambique follows joint operations by the National Administration of Conservation Areas and Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit. Investigators received support from conservation groups who collaborated to track the suspect’s movements since 2014.
The alleged crime spree dates to 2012. Kasian allegedly managed at least seven armed poaching gangs in southern Tanzania in 2013 and moved his operations to northern Mozambique the next year.
In 2014, following the high-profile arrest of a professional ivory poaching gang in Mozambique, investigators uncovered evidence linking Kasian to poaching and trafficking of over three tons of ivory that year alone.
The detained poachers confessed to working for him and claimed he operated other gangs in the reserve.
Poaching operations in Africa have grown increasingly sophisticated with injections of large amounts of cash from foreign ivory traffickers.
Elephant populations have fallen as a result. Since 2011, Niassa National Reserve’s elephant population has declined from 12 000 to 3 600.