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.
18 October 2016

Enhancing environmental security through cooperation

22 September 2016

INTERPOL holds advanced training course for wildlife crime analysts

12 July 2016

1,500 police in operation targeting crime networks across Eastern and Southern Africa

06 July 2016

Collaborative efforts to combat the illegal trade in shahtoosh shawls

04 June 2016

UNEP-INTERPOL report: value of environmental crime up 26%

20 May 2016

Targeting organized crime networks behind illegal fishing focus of INTERPOL meeting

04 May 2016

Organized crime networks behind ivory and rhino horn trafficking targeted in East Africa

15 April 2016

INTERPOL training in Argentina targets corruption in the forestry sector

25 March 2016

Namibian President discusses global security issues with INTERPOL Secretary General

21 March 2016

International Day of Forests: the role of environmental security

18 March 2016

Spanish operation nets suspects behind illegal fishing

03 March 2016

INTERPOL supporting global action on World Wildlife Day

22 December 2015

Elephant ivory and rhino horn trafficking targeted across Africa in Operation Worthy II

21 December 2015

New strategy to combat tiger crime welcomed by INTERPOL

01 December 2015

INTERPOL holds environmental security seminar in Colombia

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

Davyth Stewart, INTERPOL Environmental Security programme

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.