NAIROBI, Kenya – To further support its member countries in the fight against illegal ivory trafficking and other environmental issues, INTERPOL has established a dedicated team to tackle these crimes in Africa.
Located within the INTERPOL Regional Bureau for East Africa in Nairobi, the environmental crime team will act as an extension of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security unit located at its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France.
As part of the Regional Bureau, the team will collaborate with national law enforcement agencies and INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in the region to increase information exchange, support intelligence analysis and assist national and regional investigations, with a particular focus on wildlife crime.
With the illicit trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn a major concern in East Africa, the team will work with countries and partner organizations to further the activities of INTERPOL’s Project Wisdom, which combats elephant and rhinoceros poaching and the illegal trade in ivory through the financial support of the Wildcat Foundation. This includes capacity building initiatives and creating a regional network for environmental protection.
David Higgins, Head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security unit, said the establishment of the environmental crime team at the Regional Bureau demonstrates INTERPOL’s dedication to offering the highest level of support to law enforcement in its member countries in disrupting the transnational criminal groups involved not only in wildlife crime, but also other serious forms of crime.
“This initiative will enable INTERPOL, through its Project Wisdom, to provide continuous investigative and analytical support to East African member countries concerning significant transnational wildlife trafficking cases, and to assist with planning operations targeting the organized criminal networks behind these crimes,” said Mr Higgins.
INTERPOL announced the establishment of the environmental crime team during an event hosted by the Australian High Commission in Kenya. Australia is a key partner with INTERPOL in activities to prevent and combat wildlife crime throughout Africa.
“The global fight against illegal trafficking has just been given a significant boost. The new INTERPOL team in Nairobi will mean better intelligence gathering and sharing among the law enforcement community, which is key to shutting down the poachers and smugglers,” said Australian High Commissioner Geoff Tooth.
Following the announcement, on 7 October INTERPOL, with the support of the UK National Crime Agency and UK High Commission, will host an information exchange and analysis workshop in Nairobi to enhance partnerships and information sharing between law enforcement and the private sector.