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19 December 2011

INTERPOL leads crackdown on illegal wildlife markets in Asia

BANGKOK, Thailand ‒ International wildlife crime networks in Asia have been dealt a blow after a recent operation coordinated by INTERPOL against the illegal trade in endangered species resulted in raids, arrests and investigations across the region.

Supported by INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme, Operation Stocktake (1-12 December) saw enforcement agencies from India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand inspect markets, restaurants and shops to identify those selling and trading endangered wildlife alongside legal products, including the sale of wildlife meat for human consumption.

India’s Wildlife Crime Control Bureau carried out searches in 37 shops, arresting 10 suspects who now face criminal proceedings for trading items such as ivory and leopard claws. A number of birds were recovered as evidence along with marine animals such as sea-cucumbers and shells.

Officers from the Specialized Crime Department of Indonesia National Police coordinated the operation from Jakarta. East Kalimantan Regional Police arrested four suspects believed to be responsible for the killing of orangutans, and recovered firearms and what are believed to be orangutan bones.

In Malaysia, officers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks inspected 21 shops and restaurants, resulting in four persons facing charges for possession of protected species. One restaurant was caught selling porcupine, civet and wild boar meat.

Officers from the Thailand Police Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division focused their efforts on Bangkok's Chatuchak Market, a known hub for illegal wildlife trafficking. Investigators are developing and studying intelligence gathered during the operation and investigations continue.

“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,” said INTERPOL’s Acting Executive Director for Police Services, Bernd Rossbach.

All four countries involved in Operation Stocktake uncovered offences of transnational crime and are working with INTERPOL to pursue international leads.

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.