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21 May 2013

INTERPOL urges global action against organized crime links behind illegal wildlife trade

LONDON, England - The need for a more systematic and global approach to information gathering for more effective action on the ground has been highlighted by INTERPOL during a conference hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH the Duke of Cambridge against the illegal trade in wildlife.

Convened by The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU) and the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the conference brings together representatives from key source, transit and market countries affected by the illegal trade in wildlife, as well as international NGOs, agencies and organizations including INTERPOL, CITES, the World Bank, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The conference will lay the groundwork for a meeting in late 2013 at Heads of State level.

The meeting focused on promoting international efforts to:

  • reduce demand for endangered wildlife and related products in markets around the world;
  • increase capacity for global law enforcement action against the organized syndicates engaged in the illegal trade in wildlife;
  • assist communities to find long-term, viable alternatives to the trade.

Addressing the conference, David Higgins, Manager of the INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme said ‘a greater understanding of the problem with a more systematic and institutionalized approach to gathering, managing and analyzing intelligence for all sectors is required.’

“No country or agency can alone take responsibility for what is a global crime and which  requires a global response, especially given the involvement of organized crime and the links to other crimes including corruption, money laundering and murder,” said Mr Higgins.

“We all need to work together to build on our relevant areas of expertise and develop a long-term strategy to suppress this criminal threat to wildlife and to our shared biodiversity,” added Mr Higgins.

At the 2010 INTERPOL General Assembly in Doha, Qatar, police leaders from around the world unanimously backed a resolution encouraging greater global policing efforts against environmental crime through INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme.

They also called for INTERPOL to play a leading role in supporting national and international enforcement against environmental crime, which encompasses activities ranging from illegal trade in wildlife, timber and marine species, to illegal transborder movements of hazardous waste, and the illicit exploitation of natural resources.

INTERPOL-coordinated operations around the globe have already led to the arrest of thousands of individuals and the seizure of tonnes of illicitly traded wildlife and endangered species, in addition to flora and fauna.