Brazilian police target international wildlife smuggling network in INTERPOL-supported operation

6 July 2010

BRASILIA, Brazil – More than 10,000 animals, including several rare and protected species, have been seized in a nationwide operation against international wildlife trafficking led by the Brazilian Federal Police in co-operation with INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Brasilia.

Codenamed São Francisco, the operation involving more than 200 federal police officers has already resulted in nearly 30 arrests. One suspect stopped at Brazil’s Guarulhos airport was wearing a jacket concealing 64 eggs of a protected bird species, one of which hatched during the arrest. 

Spanning three Brazilian states - São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina – the operation launched on 30 June has so far targeted 42 locations, including homes, private companies, public markets, airports and border crossings. 

“Operation São Francisco is the second in a series of operations targeting the illegal trade in endangered wildlife and will provide a strong information and intelligence gathering basis for future actions,” said Jose Ricardo Pataro Botelho de Queiroz, Head of INTERPOL Brasilia.

“This years actions, combined with the success of Operation Oxossi last year against the illegal hunting and trade in protected species which resulted in 72 arrests and the seizure of thousands of illegally-held specimens, again show that Brazil will not tolerate the plunder and theft of its environment and wildlife by criminals,” added Commissioner Botelho.

NCB Brasilia has already requested an INTERPOL Red Notice or international wanted persons notice for a Dutch national suspected of being a key member of one of Brazil’s largest wildlife smuggling networks

“This operation has again proved that while environmental criminals may cross borders and display high levels of organization, so too will the international law enforcement community in its efforts to apprehend those criminals” commented David Higgins, manager of INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme.

“Operation São Francisco will enable law enforcement officers, both in Brazil and further afield, to identify the routes being used by smugglers, their connections and ultimately lead to the arrest of other individuals involved in these crimes.”

Investigations are continuing and the final results of Operation São Francisco will be released upon their conclusion.