Police and customs officers have carried out probably the most widespread anti-wildlife-trafficking operation ever in a joint global operation that is led to the taking of 1000’s of endangered animals and the arrest of nearly 600 suspects.
The World Customs Organization and Interpol stated on Wednesday that in June they performed almost 2,000 seizures in a historic joint-operation that helped local authorities round up nearly 10,000 live turtles and tortoises, almost 1,500 live reptiles, 23 live apes, 30 live big cats, hundreds of pieces of elephant tusk, half a ton of ivory and five rhino horns.
“It is a landmark. It is the first time such a big joint network has been mobilized — throughout 109 countries,” Interpol’s wildlife expert Henri Fournel informed The Associated Press.
“What we lacked in tackling wildlife crime was a concerted network, and that is what we have now,” he added.
Interpol launched searing photographs from the global trafficking haul: 1000’s of protected tortoises crawling over one another in a dark container in Kazakhstan; an inquisitive-looking white tiger cub concealed in a pick-up in Mexico; and elephant tusks lined up symmetrically on the ground in Kenya.
In a press release, Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock stated: “Wildlife crime not only strips the environment of its resources, it additionally has an impression by the associated violence, money laundering, and fraud.” The illegal wildlife trade is a multibillion-greenback industry, authorities state.
Operation Thunderball, which operated out of Interpol’s innovation complex in Singapore, led to the arrest of 582 suspects, it stated.