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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 trading and disposal of hazardous wastes or resources 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.

The INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme:

  • Leads global and regional operations to dismantle the criminal networks behind environmental crime using intelligence-driven policing;
  • Coordinates and develops international law enforcement best practice manuals, guides and other resources;
  • Provides environmental law enforcement agencies with access to our services by enhancing their links with INTERPOL National Central Bureaus;
  • Works with the Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee to shape the Programme's strategy and direction.
News
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


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


06 December 2013

Nepal requests INTERPOL Red Notice for wanted rhino poacher


05 December 2013

Countries unite to identify illegal fishing vessel via INTERPOL


29 November 2013

Ivory and illegal timber seized in INTERPOL-coordinated operation across Africa


07 November 2013

INTERPOL launches Project Eden to target illegal waste


06 November 2013

INTERPOL-UNEP conference aims to develop global roadmap against environmental crime


06 November 2013

Costa Rica uses INTERPOL Purple Notice to warn about illegal shark finning


25 October 2013

INTERPOL and partners crack down on illegal e-waste trade


10 September 2013

INTERPOL African conference in Algeria unites regional law enforcement against transnational crime


06 September 2013

Norway requests first INTERPOL notice for illegal fishing


30 August 2013

INTERPOL hosts delegation from United Kingdom environmental agencies


02 August 2013

INTERPOL report warns carbon trading at increased risk of criminal exploitation


26 July 2013

INTERPOL member countries continue fight against illegal logging in Latin America


22 July 2013

Ivory trafficking in West and Central Africa targeted in INTERPOL operation with IFAW support


12 July 2013

INTERPOL meeting strengthens response to wildlife crime in Southeast Asia


11 July 2013

Responding to fisheries crime in Southern and Eastern Africa focus of INTERPOL meeting


05 July 2013

INTERPOL meeting in South Asia aims to improve wildlife crime investigation skills


27 June 2013

INTERPOL-UNEP manual alerts authorities to methods of smuggling dangerous chemicals


21 June 2013

INTERPOL’s global tools strengthening European security


05 June 2013

Celebrating World Environment Day – INTERPOL calls for greater international cooperation on environment security


03 June 2013

INTERPOL meeting aims to strengthen cooperation on environmental crime activities


22 May 2013

INTERPOL and IFAW agreement boosts global fight against wildlife crime


03 May 2013

Protecting forests focus of INTERPOL training course


21 March 2013

Combating illegal logging key to saving our forests and preventing climate change


07 March 2013

Online ivory trade worth millions, INTERPOL report reveals


05 March 2013

Protecting wildlife and forests from organized crime focus of global consortium meeting


26 February 2013

INTERPOL launches Project Scale to combat fisheries crime


25 February 2013

INTERPOL operation targets illegal trade of e-waste in Europe, Africa


19 February 2013

Latin American countries in first INTERPOL operation against illegal logging


23 January 2013

Nepal police seize tiger parts and arrest seven during intelligence-led actions


21 December 2012

European Commission funding to boost INTERPOL fight against wildlife crime


21 December 2012

Use of intelligence in environmental investigations focus of INTERPOL training in Nepal


04 December 2012

INTERPOL operations in Asia lead to seizure of live tigers and other protected species


30 November 2012

Mozambique seeks to enhance environmental security with INTERPOL seminar


26 November 2012

INTERPOL supports wildlife crime investigations and operations in western Africa


24 October 2012

USAID funding for INTERPOL-led wild tiger protection campaign supporting South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network


19 October 2012

China hosts its first National Environmental Security Seminar with INTERPOL support


27 September 2012

Illegal logging nets organized crime up to 100 billion dollars a year, INTERPOL–UNEP report reveals


13 September 2012

Environmental officers go back to their roots in joint INTERPOL and Brazilian Federal Police initiative


29 August 2012

Pangolin traffickers arrested in INTERPOL operation across Asia


25 July 2012

Thousands arrested in INTERPOL operation targeting illegal trade in birds


27 July 2012

INTERPOL and Environment Canada share expertise to fight wildlife crime


29 July 2012

INTERPOL wildlife operation results mark Global Tiger Day


05 June 2012

INTERPOL launches Project LEAF to combat illegal logging worldwide


30 March 2012

Enforcement chiefs at INTERPOL-UNEP inaugural meeting design blueprint for environmental security


19 December 2011

INTERPOL leads crackdown on illegal wildlife markets in Asia


16 December 2011

International workshop focuses on controlled delivery strategy against forest and wildlife crime


02 November 2011

Call issued to save wild tigers from extinction


29 August 2011

INTERPOL-supported training aims to curb wildlife trafficking across Southern Africa


Language versions

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

Video - David Higgins

Message from President Robert B. Zoellick of the World Bank Group

INTERPOL General Assembly Resolution, 2010

"There is a vital need for a global response to combating environmental crime and INTERPOL should play a leading role in supporting the international enforcement efforts."

See the full Resolution