Johannesburg:  An international syndicate involved in illicit diamond trade has been busted in South Africa.

According to Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (The Hawks), 19 suspects were arrested in Gauteng, the Northern Cape, Free State provinces during an operation last week for involvement in the illegal diamond trade, Xinhua reported Tuesday.

Following the operation, eight more suspects turned themselves in Monday in connection with the syndicate, bringing the total number of arrests to 27.

The Hawks had received a tip-off about the illicit trading and set up an operation where they traded diamonds with the group.

On Monday, the parliamentary portfolio committee on mineral resources called for tough sentences for those found guilty, as these activities have seen the emergence of gangsters and led to the loss of lives.

This would be in line with the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which seeks to stem illegal trading of diamonds, the committee said.

The KPCS is the process established in 2003 to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream diamond market.

Blood diamonds or conflict diamonds is a term used for a diamond mined illegally in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, an invading army’s war efforts, or a warlord’s activity.

Diamonds mined during the recent civil wars in Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and other nations have been given that label.

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