Environmental crime

Environmental crime is a serious and growing international problem, and one which takes many different forms.

Broadly speaking, wildlife crime is the illegal exploitation of the world’s wild flora and fauna, while pollution crime is the trade and disposal of waste and hazardous substances in contravention of national and international laws.

In addition to these clear and present crimes, new types of environmental crime are emerging, such as carbon trade and water management crime.

Organized criminal networks

Environmental crime is not restricted by borders, and can affect a nation’s economy, security and even its existence.

A significant proportion of both wildlife and pollution crime is carried out by organized criminal networks, drawn by the low risk and high profit nature of these types of crime.

The same routes used to smuggle wildlife across countries and continents are often used to smuggle weapons, drugs and people. Indeed, environmental crime often occurs hand in hand with other offences such as passport fraud, corruption, money laundering and murder.

INTERPOL's response

In today’s global economy there is a need for an international strategy to deal with this type of crime. As the only organization with a mandate to share and process criminal information globally, INTERPOL is uniquely qualified to lead these efforts.

At INTERPOL, we carry out the following activities:

  • Leading global and regional operations to dismantle the criminal networks behind environmental crime using intelligence-driven investigations;
  • Coordinating and developing international law enforcement best practice manuals, guides and other resources;
  • Providing environmental law enforcement agencies with access to INTERPOL tools and services by enhancing their links with INTERPOL National Central Bureaus;
  • Working with the Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee to shape strategy and direction.
26 November 2015

INTERPOL operations target illegal timber trade in Africa and the Americas

23 November 2015

Tackling wildlife crime focus of INTERPOL meeting

20 November 2015

INTERPOL meeting aims to develop strategy to curb tiger crime

17 November 2015

Roadmap for environmental security created by INTERPOL-UNEP conference

16 November 2015

INTERPOL and IFAW reinforce cooperation in combating wildlife crime

16 November 2015

INTERPOL-UNEP conference to tackle most pressing environmental crime issues

12 November 2015

Security and Environmental Crime conference issues call for action

06 November 2015

INTERPOL’s role in combating illegal fishing recognized

02 November 2015

World’s police chiefs to address global threats at INTERPOL General Assembly in Rwanda

23 October 2015

Strategy to combat illegal wildlife trade in Central Asia marks International Snow Leopard Day

14 October 2015

Switzerland alerts police worldwide on new environmental crime smuggling route

13 October 2015

INTERPOL-supported illegal fishing investigations lead to prosecution

21 September 2015

Singapore leads transnational ivory trafficking investigation

31 August 2015

INTERPOL-coordinated EU project outlines roadmap against unregulated e-waste

25 August 2015

INTERPOL meeting in Singapore gathers fisheries investigators

21 August 2015

INTERPOL’s Project Leaf looks to boost efforts against forestry crime in Asia and East Africa

19 August 2015

Transnational fisheries investigations focus of INTERPOL trainings in Southeast Asia

07 August 2015

INTERPOL hosts meetings on forestry and fisheries crime in Central and South America

29 July 2015

On Global Tiger Day, INTERPOL commends member country efforts to protect the species

28 July 2015

Elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking cases addressed at INTERPOL meeting

19 June 2015

Events in Jordan seek to boost environmental security in the region

05 June 2015

INTERPOL operation against wildlife trafficking marks World Environment Day

04 June 2015

Combating corruption in the forestry sector focus of INTERPOL training in Malaysia

20 May 2015

Sudan police host INTERPOL National Environment Security Seminar

03 March 2015

INTERPOL encourages global action on World Wildlife Day

23 February 2015

Zambia hosts INTERPOL training session against wildlife crime

16 February 2015

Nepal’s top wildlife criminal nabbed in Malaysia

12 February 2015

Uniting West African efforts to tackle illegal timber trade focus of INTERPOL workshop

15 January 2015

New Zealand requests INTERPOL Purple Notices to identify networks behind illegal fishing

24 December 2014

Tanzanian police hold suspected Kenyan ivory smuggling ring leader targeted in INTERPOL operation

19 December 2014

Hundreds of animals seized in operation targeting wildlife trafficking across Asia

22 December 2014

INTERPOL report on illegal bear trade highlights need for greater enforcement coordination

10 December 2014

Suspected illegal ivory trader targeted in INTERPOL operation arrested in Zambia

05 December 2014

Fisheries crime investigations supported by INTERPOL training

05 December 2014

INTERPOL holds wildlife crime training in Botswana

27 November 2014

INTERPOL environmental working group meetings enhance collaboration

21 November 2014

INTERPOL holds training courses to tackle forest crime in South America

17 November 2014

INTERPOL seeks public assistance to locate environmental crime fugitives in global operation

13 November 2014

From the crime scene to the courtroom: ICCWC release Guidelines on ivory

24 October 2014

INTERPOL holds regional wildlife enforcement training in East Africa

07 October 2014

INTERPOL announces formation of dedicated environmental crime team in Africa

19 September 2014

INTERPOL holds wildlife crime training in Namibia

31 August 2014

Combating wildlife crime in South Asia focus of Nepal meeting

19 August 2014

Rebuilding police capabilities focus of INTERPOL Chief visit to Central African Republic

25 July 2014

Trade in illegal timber target of INTERPOL and WCO-supported operation in Peru

30 June 2014

Environment Canada and INTERPOL unite to fight pollution crimes

26 June 2014

Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda unite efforts to combat illegal timber trade in East Africa

24 June 2014

Illegal trade in wildlife and timber products finances criminal and militia groups, threatening security and sustainable development

11 June 2014

French environmental champion visits INTERPOL to advance common efforts to protect the planet

05 June 2014

Police and public unite behind INTERPOL campaign to #TurnBackCrime

02 June 2014

INTERPOL chief joint mission to Guinea Bissau with UN Special Representative for West Africa focuses on law enforcement capacity

03 April 2014

INTERPOL report highlights need for greater operational response to preserve tigers

26 March 2014

First e-learning tool launched to prevent illegal trade in hazardous chemicals and waste

21 March 2014

Clear-cut crime scenes: Why the International Day of Forests matters

03 March 2014

On World Wildlife Day, INTERPOL renews commitment to environmental security

25 February 2014

Response to elephant poaching and ivory trafficking focus of new INTERPOL report

13 February 2014

Global cooperation vital against soaring wildlife crime, INTERPOL President tells London conference

11 February 2014

President of Guinea discusses security needs with INTERPOL Chief

10 February 2014

Togo role in fighting wildlife and transnational crime focus of INTERPOL Chief visit

30 January 2014

Themis Network visits INTERPOL to strengthen environmental security in Balkans

22 January 2014

South Africa requests INTERPOL Notices for vessels suspected of illegal fishing and crew abuse

David Higgins, Head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security unit

INTERPOL Environmental Security Programme

Language versions

For information in all official INTERPOL languages, see our Resources page.