Global po­lice in ‘huge’ wildlife con­tra­band haul: Europol

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Global po­lice have seized “huge amounts” of wildlife con­tra­band, in­clud­ing some 12 tons of ivory, as well as rhino horn and whale bones, in a mas­sive op­er­a­tion across 62 coun­tries, Europol said Thurs­day.

“Op­er­a­tion COBRA III, the big­gest ever co­or­di­nated in­ter­na­tional law en­force­ment op­er­a­tion tar­get­ing the illegal trade in en­dan­gered species, has led to the re­cov­ery of a huge amount of wildlife con­tra­band,” Europe’s po­lice agency said in a state­ment.

In a sep­a­rate state­ment is­sued in Bangkok, one of the oper­a­tions’ or­ga­niz­ers, the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east­ern Asian Na­tions’ Wildlife En­force­ment Net­work (ASEAN- WEN) said COBRA III re­sulted in at least 300 ar­rests.

This in­cluded “king­pins and over 600 seizures of as­sorted wildlife con­tra­band,” it said.

Eight sus­pected king­pins ar­rested in­cluded a Chi­nese na­tional in­volved in Namibia’s big­gest rhino horn smug­gling case and a no­to­ri­ous ele­phant poacher in In­dia, it added.

The two-month-long op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing 62 Euro­pean, African, Amer­i­can and Asian states saw po­lice seize 119 rhino horns, with 11,439 dead and live spec­i­mens re­cov­ered in Europe alone, Europol said from its Hague-based head­quar­ters.

It in­cluded 16 whale ribs in the Nether­lands, 20 kilo­grams of live leeches in Bulgaria and 10,000 dead sea­horses and 400 live tor­toises and tur­tles in the UK and 300 in Croa­tia.

In Thai­land, po­lice seized more than four tons of ivory hid­den in con­tain­ers orig­i­nat­ing in the Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo.

The ship­ping of ivory has been banned since 1989 un­der the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

In In­dia, nearly 11,000 kilo­grams of sus­pected tigers’ bones were found.

Chi­nese and Ger­man po­lice mean­while con­fis­cated around 800 cacti plants, while 50 kilo­grams of un­worked ivory were found in France.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue many coun­tries,” Europol said.

Europol, who sup­ported the op­er­a­tion said COBRA III was or­ga­nized by ASEAN-WEN and the Lusaka Agree­ment Task Force, con­sist­ing of seven African coun­tries.

Said Europol’s di­rec­tor Rob Wain­wright: “The traf­fick­ing of en­dan­gered species re­mains a prob­lem in the EU and be­yond.”

“Op­er­a­tion COBRA III once again shows the true global di­men­sion of these crimes,” Wain­wright said.

“We will con­tinue our ef­forts to fight these cruel crimes, to en­sure a safe en­vi­ron­ment for en­dan­gered species in Europe and all over the world,” he said.

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