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Rhino poaching 'kingpin' to remain behind bars

Hugo Ras and 9 others were arrested earlier this month in connection with a spate of poaching incidents.

Trudie Ras and her husband Hugo were arrested along with eight other people earlier this month in connection with a spate of poaching incidents across the country. Picture: Valeska Abreu/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The alleged kingpin behind a multi-million rand rhino poaching syndicate has been remanded in custody.

North West businessman Hugo Ras was arrested along with nine other people earlier this month in connection with a spate of poaching incidents across the country.

A Hawks officer, a pilot and an attorney are among those implicated in the syndicate which has illegally acquired an estimated R22 million worth of rhino horns.

In addition to killing rhino, the 10 are also accused of stealing confiscated horns poached by other groups.

Ras's legal representatives told the Pretoria Magistrates Court that he would not proceed with a bail application.

His wife and three other accused opted to apply for bail.

Animal rights activists have called for the group to remain behind bars.

Police also seized an illegal firearm and scheduled veterinary drugs when they arrested Ras.

His advocate told the court the firearm was a rusted antique.

He also said Ras previously owned a game farm, where the medicines seized were used for the live capture and transfer of animals.

The professional hunter has several previous convictions related to nature conservation transgressions.

In a separate incident in 2011, Ras was granted bail in the same court.

In 2004, he was charged with murder after a lion on his game farm killed an employee.

It is believed Ras is helping police with more serious investigations.

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