Gauteng police recovered abalone worth more than R4m on a plot in Hekpoort, between Magaliesburg and Rustenburg, on Tuesday morning.
The discovery was made on the isolated plot during a raid police carried out after receiving a tip-off.
Inside the abalone processing factory situated on the plot, fresh abalone could be seen on the floor, while processed abalone ready to be packaged was stored on the shelves in containers.
A number of drums containing liquid, gas canisters, several pairs of gloves, clothing items and shoes, a forklift, gardening spades and other items lay scattered inside the factory.
At the back of the plot, six men and a woman were arrested at two separate houses hidden by large trees.
The 21-year-old woman claimed she was visiting her lover, after police pounced on them while they were sleeping.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said members of the West Rand Flying Squad had acted on information they had received about a truck transporting raw abalone to a plot where it was going to be processed.
The final product was believed to be heading to Mozambique, where it would later be shipped to Asia.
“Our members from the West Rand flying squad received information about a truck transporting abalone from the Western Cape province heading to the place. They then acted on the information and the place was monitored until the early hours of the morning, when it was raided.
“Members went to the two separate houses in the yard where the suspects were found. Two unlicensed firearms and ammunition, [and an] undisclosed amount of cash were also recovered from the suspects,” said Peters.
One of the firearms was reportedly stolen in January this year in Klerksdorp, while the second one had its serial numbers filed off.
The suspects are expected to appear in court soon on charges of illegal possession and dealing in abalone as well as possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. Police will also need to verify the citizenship of four of the suspects.