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14 October 2015

Switzerland alerts police worldwide on new environmental crime smuggling route

LYON, France – The discovery in July at Zurich airport of large amounts of protected animal parts concealed in luggage bound for China from Tanzania via Switzerland has led to the publication of an INTERPOL Purple Notice at the request of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Bern.

Containing details and photographs of the 262kg of sawn ivory pieces and 1kg of lion fangs and claws concealed in eight suitcases, the Purple Notice was circulated to 190 INTERPOL NCBs to ascertain if similar cases had been detected in other countries.

The Notice also included the identity details of the three Chinese tourists who owned the suitcases.

“Switzerland published the Purple Notice to alert police worldwide to a crime which, although committed in a seemingly far-away continent, is only worthwhile to criminal networks if the fruit of their crime can be succesfully transported to its consumer markets,” said Henri Fournel, INTERPOL’s coordinator for the ‘Wisdom and African biodiversity’ project which aims to enhance law enforcement capacity for the conservation of elephants and rhinoceros.

“The use of INTERPOL’s global tools and services to enhance transnational law enforcement collaboration against wildlife trafficking, including through intelligence-led law enforcement intervention, is the way forward for collectively addressing this crime area which affects us today as well as future generations if we do not act now,” added Mr Fournel.

An INTERPOL Purple Notice seeks or provides information on modi operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals. It asks NCBs to share the information with local law enforcement bodies to alert them to new emerging crime and to take whatever preventive, precautionary or investigative measures they consider necessary.