400 arrested, tons of ivory seized in global trafficking crackdown
MOSCOW, February 10 (RAPSI, Ingrid Burke) - Upwards of 400 arrests and 350 major wildlife seizures were made during the course of the recently wrapped Operation Cobra II – a month-long global operation aimed at clamping down on crimes against wildlife, according to a statement released on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) website Monday.
The cooperative effort, carried out by officers from 28 law enforcement agencies around the world, was notable in bringing about the first ever joint China-Africa sting operation, which led to the identifications and arrests of members of a large-scale ivory trafficking group.
Officers collected a treasure trove of black market goods, including: 36 rhinoceros horns, over three metric tons of elephant ivory, upwards of 10,000 turtles, over 1,000 protected-species skins, more than 10,000 European eels, and over 100 tons of rosewood logs.
A second CITES release noted that the seizures came from a broad range of wildlife, including cheetah, elephant, rhinoceros, pangolin, leopard, snake, tiger, turtle, and rosewood.
The 400 arrests were made in Asia and Africa, and included kingpins in the trafficking industry, according to the statement.
The project was carried out by law enforcement and wildlife officials in Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cambodia, China and Hong Kong, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mozambique, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania, the US, Viet Nam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Praising the project’s outcome, CITES Secretary General John Scanlon said in a statement: “This second Operation COBRA initiative shows what can be achieved when law enforcement authorities across range, transit and destination States work together in a coordinated manner. It also serves to highlight that intelligence-led operations are essential in the fight against transnational organized wildlife crime.”