In what the Scorpions described as an "historic development" the elite unit registered the Western Cape's first racketeering and money laundering conviction against the "Marx syndicate".

Members of the notorious perlemoen smuggling gang were convicted in the Hermanus Regional Court on Thursday afternoon, said Scorpions spokesman Sipho Ngwema.

He said the syndicate leader, 34-year-old Elizabeth Marx, will in effect serve four years and six months of a 10-year sentence related to 423 offences and four counts of money laundering.

"Her assets worth about R1-million were permanently attached to the State. This includes her mansion house in Hermanus and the bail money of R90 000 she paid for her co-accused and herself," said Ngwema.

He said co-accused Ricardo Theart will serve two years in effect, after being sentenced to five years imprisonment, with three years suspended.

Frederick Marx, Elizabeth's husband, also pleaded guilty to 17 charges of racketeering and money laundering and was sentenced to two years under house arrest.

Ngwema said the sentences were mutually agreed to through a plea agreement on condition the accused made full disclosure and testified against other gangs.

"The State will ensure their safety," said Ngwema, without elaborating, when asked about possible threats from the other gangs. - Sapa