Over 30,000 diamond stones have been seized in various provinces of Angola as part of an ongoing transparency operation. The operation began in September 2017.
According to media reports, the stones correspond to 1,894 carats. However, Commissioner António Bernardo, the official spokesman for the operation said that 1,403 are yet to undergo evaluation. He further added that the operation aims to control illegal immigration and trafficking of diamonds.
Mr. Bernardo also said that diamond trading houses were also closed in several provinces of the country and seized more than US $600,000. He added that some tools used in illegal diamond mining were also seized and the recovery of 50 AKM-type firearms.
Earlier on this month, four people were reportedly killed and seven injured in northeastern Angola during a police operation targeting foreign nationals suspected of diamond smuggling.
According to media reports, the bust resulted in the recovery of 3,000 diamonds, 150 vehicles and over $80,000 in cash. The illegal aliens were also arrested. In a statement from the police, around 800 people were arrested during the operation, including Congolese, Lebanese, Malians and Nigerians.
There are estimated to be three million foreigners, about half of whom live illegally, in Angola which has a population of around 28 million. The foreigners are drawn by the prospect of working in illegal diamond mining in the diamond-rich north of the country.
In a research released 2014 by ENDIAMA, it was discovered that traffickers in Angola produced more than US $140m worth of diamonds in the first seven months of the year. Meanwhile, government operations turned out less than US $130m worth.
ENDIAMA board chairperson Agostinho Gaspar said at least 300 000 people are involved in Angola’s diamond-trafficking network. He also insisted that most of them were foreigners, of whom most are nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo.