Annual Environmental Enforcement Awards
Nine institutions and individuals from across Asia have been recognized by the United Nations, USAID, Interpol, and the Freeland Foundation for outstanding work in preventing transboundary environmental crime in an annual award ceremony in Bangkok.
WILDLIFE TRAFiCKING WAS IN THE spotlight as winners from China, India, the Republic of Korea, , Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand and Viet Nam accepted awards for disrupting international criminal networks that have laid waste to wildlife across multiple continents.
Environmental crimes, which include illegal trade in wildlife, illicit trade in forests and forestry products, illegal dumping of waste including chemicals, smuggling of ozone depleting substances and illegal mining, comes at a hefty cost - estimated at up to $258 billion per year. It is now the fourth largest illegal crime after drug smuggling, counterfeiting AND HUMAN TRAFiCKING.
AWARD WINNERS 1. CATEGORY: INTEGRITY
o Ms. Le Thi Hang, Judge at Khanh Hoa People’s Court, Nha Trang, Viet Nam. Ms. Hang is a judge who showed exceptional determination to bring justice to one of the most serious wildlife crime cases Viet Nam has seen. The case began in 2014 when more than 7,000 dead sea turtles were discovered, fully or partially TAXIDERMIZED, STACKED FROM lOOR to ceiling at several warehouses near Nha Trang city.
* Pillar 4 Central Investigation Bureau, Nepal Police. Despite being a small team with limited resources, Pillar 4 was able to dismantle an international criminal network smuggling wildlife species, including black chimpanzees and exotic birds from as far away as NIGERIA. BY INVESTIGATING THE iRST ever case in the country registered as “organized crime” related to the illegal wildlife trade, they apprehended nine members of an international network, which INCLUDED GOVERNMENT OFiCIALS FROM their own country.
* Special Commendation: Wichien Chinnawong, Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary Chief, Thailand. In February 2018, a small team of rangers led by Mr. Chinnawong encountered a group of hunters camping in a famous wildlife sanctuary and eating highly endangered animals. He apprehended all suspect poachers and pressed charges against them, including a charge for attempted bribery. While the trial will determine the exact responsibilities of the alleged poachers, the determination and the integrity of Mr. Chinnawong and his team remain undisputable facts.
2. CATEGORY: IMPACT
* Thailand Team, composed of the Thai Customs, the Royal Thai Police, and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation. In May 2018 the Samut Prakan Court in Thailand sentenced a notorious WILDLIFE TRAFiCKER TO 2.5 YEARS IN jail. This conviction was the result of a complex investigation that saw a strong collaboration among different authorities in Thailand.
* Wang Wei, Director of Investigation II of Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs. Wei played an instrumental role in China’s National Sword enforcement campaign in the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs to implement China’s new waste import controls. The National Sword policy has changed the landscape of waste trade in Asia and is now being replicated in other countries.
3. CATEGORY: INNOVATION
* Team of the Investigation and Suppression Division III of the Royal Thai Customs, under the Director Mr. Decha Wichaidit. The Thai Customs team adopted innovative RISK PROiLING TECHNIQUES TO IDENTIFY wildlife smugglers travelling to Thailand and Southeast Asia. Through the development of an advanced risk management system, Thai Customs has been able to detect wildlife smuggling patterns for passengers travelling from Africa to Southeast Asia. Their generosity in sharing tactical intelligence with Customs Authorities from neighboring countries resulted in THE CONiSCATION OF RHINO HORNS AND the arrest of couriers in Singapore AND - FOR THE iRST TIME EVER - IN LAO PDR in September and October 2017.
* International Investigation Division, Korea Customs Service. Korea Customs designed a special ENFORCEMENT STRATEGY TO iGHT ILLEGAL cross-border environmental crimes and established the environment enforcement team exclusively designated to tackle various types of cross-border environmental crimes such as illegal trade in controlled substances and protected wildlife species.
* Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India. The Bureau (WCCB) has adopted innovative enforcement TECHNIQUES THAT HAVE DRAMATICALLY increased enforcement of transboundary environmental crimes in India. Notably, it has developed an online Wildlife Crime Database Management System to retrieve real-time data to help analyze trends and devise effective measures to prevent and detect wildlife crime across India. In order to involve the public in the iGHT AGAINST WILDLIFE CRIME, WCCB has also developed a scheme to enroll willing persons as WCCB Volunteers.
4. CATEGORY: COLLABORATION
* Joil bin Bombon, former Dept. of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia and R.S. Sharath, former Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, India. They began an intense exchange of information on cases of mutual interest. This COOPERATION INTENSIiED OVER TIME until turning into coordinated surveillance efforts and joint law enforcement cooperation. The close cooperation resulted in the arrest of four major turtle TRAFiCKERS IN 2017 AND 2018 AND an unprecedented disruption of the illegal trade in turtles between India and Malaysia. Their efforts led also to the arrest of 35 people involved in the illegal trade.
Members of the San Parks tracking team close in on suspected Rhino poachers during a simulation of their efforts to control cross boarder poaching. The South African team works hand in hand with a Mozambican team called Dyck Advisory Group (DAG).