INTERPOL environmental crime officers seize 74 truckloads of illegal timber
LYON, France - A joint worldwide customs and police operation has resulted in the seizure of large quantities of protected flora and fauna across every continent. From 4 – 30 June 2019, INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO) coordinated Operation Thunderball, with police and customs administrations leading joint enforcement operations against wildlife and timber crime across 109 countries.
3rd September 2019
The intelligence-led operation identified trafficking routes and crime hotspots ahead of time, enabling border, police and environmental officers to seize protected wildlife products ranging from live big cats and primates to timber, marine wildlife and derived merchandise such as clothing, beauty products, food items, traditional medicines and handicrafts.
A team of customs and police officers together coordinated global enforcement activities from an Operations Coordination Centre at INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore. Initial results have led to the identification of almost 600 suspects, triggering arrests worldwide. Further arrests and prosecutions are anticipated as ongoing global investigations progress.
Ireland has a HUGE carbon footprint as we are major importers of timber (tropical/temperate/boreal) from around the world much of which is coming from questionable sources @INTERPOL_EC #deforestation #EnvironmentDefenders @irishgov pic.twitter.com/Fg8103qUmq— Tom Roche (Just Forests) (@Justforests) September 3, 2019
Global seizures reported to date include:
23 live primates;
30 big cats and large quantities of animal parts;
440 pieces of elephant tusks and an additional 545 Kg of ivory;
Five rhino horns;
More than 4,300 birds;
Just under 1,500 live reptiles and nearly 10,000 live turtles and tortoises;
Almost 7,700 wildlife parts from all species, including more than 30 kg game meat;
2,550 cubic meters of timber (equivalent to 74 truckloads);
More than 2,600 plants;
Almost 10,000 marine wildlife items, such as coral, seahorses, dolphins and sharks.
The operation saw half a tonne of pangolin parts bound for Asia seized in Nigeria, and the arrest of three suspects in Uruguay attempting to smuggle more than 400 protected wildlife species.
The operation highlighted the continuing trend for online wildlife trade, with 21 arrests in Spain and the seizure in Italy of 1,850 birds resulting from two online investigations.
Wildlife crime is rife, global, on the increase, and closely linked to organized crime.
“Wildlife crime not only strips our environment of its resources, it also has an impact through the associated violence, money laundering and fraud,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“Operations like Thunderball are concrete actions targeting the transnational crime networks profiting from these illicit activities. We will continue our efforts with our partners to ensure that there are consequences for criminals who steal from our environment,” added the INTERPOL Chief.
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