The start of this month has seen a series of raids on markets, shops and restaurants across 4 Asian countries. The raids undertaken by national police and law enforcement officers from India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand were co-ordinated and supported by INTERPOL officials under the banner of Operation Stocktake.
India’s wildlife crime unit raided 37 shops and arrested 10 suspects. The range of wildlife and animals parts recovered can from many endangered species. Objects recovered include leopard paws and illegal ivory. Marine organisms and tickets were also seized including sea cucumbers and shells. A number of endangered bird species were also recovered during the raids.
In Indonesia a team of police officers from East Kalimantan arrested 4 people for killing orang-utans and recovered rifles and orang-utan bones. The raid was organised by the specialist crime unit of Indonesia’s nation police force.
In Thailand one of the worst markets in the world for trading of wildlife and endangered species was raided by the police. Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market saw a raid by the Environmental Crime Division.
In Malaysia police targeted 21 shops and restaurants in pursuit of wildlife traffickers and bushmeat retailers. Four people were arrested for selling meat from endangered species.
INTERPOL’s Acting Executive Director for Police Services, Bernd Rossbach, said “This operation demonstrates the strength of the INTERPOL global network in coordinating operations against transnational crimes such as wildlife trafficking. Working with its 190 member countries, INTERPOL helps combat crimes which are a threat to global environmental security and human health,”
Justin Gosling, INTERPOL’s Wildlife Crime Officer based in Bangkok, Thailand, said that Operation Stocktake was a strong beginning to a series of actions targeting regional wildlife markets which are not only a threat to wild species and their welfare, but also represent a danger to public health through the potential spread of zoonoses, diseases which can be spread from animals to humans.
The local raids are the first part of operation Stocktake and the 4 national police forces are working with INTERPOL to follow up on leads and intelligence on the cross border wildlife trade.
The coordinated raids were undertaken from 1st till 12th December and is part of a growing presence of INTERPOL in tackling the international trading of wild animals and endangered species.
During the time of the raids INTERPOL supported a 3 day wildlife crime training and networking workshop in China. The workshop saw representatives of the World’s Customs Organisation and the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime provide information on methods to tackle international wildlife criminals. The workshop called Establishing a Network of Controlled Delivery Units for Forest and Wildlife Law Enforcement involved 19 countries from across Africa and Asia discuss the best methods of tracking illegal wildlife across countries.
The workshop looked at the benefits of not intercepting illegal wildlife in transit when first discovered as this only leads to the arrest of the courier. By working together and using latest techniques police and enforcement officers can track the package through to its destination and build up a picture of the complete transit route and people involved.
These ‘controlled deliveries’ allows law enforcement officers to know who are the individual consumers and suppliers in a network and can allow much more effective action against endangered species traders.