An eight-week INTERPOL operation against wildlife crime and trafficking resulted in arrests and seizures ranging from tiger parts, rhino horns, and pangolins across Asia and Africa.
This operation – codenamed Golden Strike – targeted networks smuggling protected wildlife under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Before commencing the operation, several countries worked together to identify fugitives known to travel between Africa, Asia, the US, and France. These fugitives were already suspected of trading ivory, rhino horn, pangolins and tiger parts between the two continents.
Intelligence was shared between 23 countries enabled investigators to target trafficking routes, with officers conducting inspections at roadblocks and border points throughout the tactical phase.
‘The world’s fourth-largest illegal trade – wildlife and forestry crime – goes hand in hand with tax evasion, corruption, money laundering and even murder, with organized crime groups using the same routes to smuggle protected wildlife as they do people, weapons, drugs and other illegal products,’ said Ilana de Wild, Interpol’s director of organised and emerging crime.
The operation has successfully seized several thousand wildlife products and the identification of some 100 suspects, triggering worldwide arrests.
A sample of seizures so far include:
- 1,202 ivory pieces weighing more than four tonnes
- 423 kg and 78 scales of pangolin species
- 50 rhino horns weighing 72 kg
- 46 kg totoaba bladders
- More than 3,785 pieces and 52 kg of mollusks
- 42 shark teeth
- 33 red corals
- 1336 other CITES protected species
- Live specimens including:
- 3 turtles and tortoises
- More than 120 birds
Picture: SARS/Getaway Gallery