(RepublicanView.org) – International police agency Interpol teamed up with the World Customs Organization (WCO) in October to arrest around 500 people worldwide. Over 2,000 protected animals, animal parts, and plants were also retrieved as part of “Operation Thunder,” an annual multi-party operation that tackles wildlife crime.
Interpol and the World Customs Organization released a joint statement on December 12 saying animals, including elephants and rhinos, were acquired in the operation, which brought together law enforcement officers and agencies from 133 countries – the highest number to date. Together, they seized 300 kg of ivory, thousands of turtle eggs, rhino horns, big cat body parts, and various primates, birds, and marine species. Among the rescued animals were 15 live pangolins and four live big cats.
According to the statement, WCO Secretary General Dr Kunio Mikuriya said that strict border control is crucial in fighting the criminal networks, as well as “intelligence-sharing, collaboration, and technological advancements.” INTERPOL Secretary General Jurgen Stock said trafficking networks are “invariably linked to armed violence, corruption, and a wide range of financial crimes,” adding that his agency is emerging as a key player in fighting illegal global trafficking, much of which takes place over the internet.
The US State Department says wildlife trafficking generates billions of dollars every year and destroys entire species. “Criminal networks exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from trading in illegal wildlife,” the Department states on its website.
Trafficking in the US is overseen by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), which works to support efforts at “ports, airports, border checkpoints, and other transit areas to curb the flow of illegal wildlife products” and to strengthen legislation in partner countries that ensure effective regulations are in place to investigate and prosecute wildlife crime.
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