Thursday, December 22, 2011

Interpol Operation Attacks Illegal Wildlife Trade in Asia

Birds confiscated as a result of Operation Stocktake

It has been recently reported that an operation coordinated by the INTERPOL has dealt a major blow to international wildlife crime networks in Asia. This operation had resulted in raids, investigations, and arrests across the region in the battle against the illegal wildlife trade of endangered species. Known as Operation Stocktake, the sting took place from December 1-12. During that time period, law enforcement agencies from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand investigated markets, restaurants, and shops to identify individuals selling and trading endangered wildlife along with legal products.
Wildlife meat confiscated in Malaysia

In India, the nation's Wildlife Crime Control Bureau conducted investigations in 37 shops, resulting in arrests of ten suspects facing criminal prosecutions for trading items such as ivory and leopard claws. In addition to that, the bureau also recovered a number of birds along with marine animals such as sea cucumbers and seashells. In Indonesia, officers from the Specialized Crime Department of the National Police carried out a similar operation from Jakarta. The East Kalimantan Regional Police took four suspects into custody believing to have been responsible for killing orangutans. They even confiscated firearms, and what were believed to be orangutan bones. Officers from Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks searched 21 shops and restaurants, leading to arrests of four people facing charges for possession of endangered species. One restaurant was under investigation for selling civet, porcupine, and wild boar meat. The Thailand Police's Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division focused its efforts on the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, which is known for being a center for wildlife trafficking. The investigators are currently developing and studying intelligence accumulated during the operation, and the investigations are still continuing. All four countries involved in the operation uncovered such offenses, and are working with the organization to go after international leads.

The operation was applauded by many INTERPOL officials. Some like Bernd Rossbach, the organization's Acting Executive Director for Police Services, stated that it demonstrates the global network's backbone in planning operations against such transcontinental crimes. He further added that INTERPOL works 190 member countries, and helps battle crimes considered as threat to global environmental security and human health. INTERPOL's Wildlife Crime Officer Justin Gosling also added that the operation was a strong start to a series of actions against regional wildlife crime networks. These global syndicates are not just a threat to the animals and their welfare, but also danger to public health through spread of diseases such as zoonosis which can be spread from animals to humans. I'm also very much proud and happy to see the INTERPOL is working alongside several local wildlife crime enforcement agencies in nations notorious for being centers of the illegal wildlife trade. I very much believe that the INTERPOL can further strengthen its alliance with other countries in places like Africa, where the bushmeat trade is playing a major role in the lives of people and Europe where the illegal caviar trade is taking a major toll on the sturgeon population. This way, the whole world will be able to combat this ongoing threat that is not just hazardous to animals but also people.

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