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Environmental crime is a serious and growing international problem. It includes the pollution of air, water and land in violation of the law in many countries, illegal trafficking in wildlife, and destroying fish stocks, wiping out forests, and exhausting essential natural resources. Combating this threat is the mission of the Environmental Crime Program of the international police organization INTERPOL. And the United States is doing its part to support that mission.
The U.S. National Central Bureau of INTERPOL in Washington, D.C. hosted its first U.S. Interagency Environmental Crime Meeting. INTERPOL's General Secretariat and INTERPOL Washington partnered in this effort to bring together representatives of various U.S. government agencies to discuss ways to foster communication and enhance international cooperation and participation in combating environmental crime.
"I am quite pleased that INTERPOL Washington and INTERPOL's General Secretariat have partnered in this great effort to build partnerships with federal agencies that have a strong focus in protecting our environment," said INTERPOL Washington Director Timothy Williams at the opening of the meeting on December 9th. "I hope this meeting will be the first of many as we all work collaboratively to prevent crimes that can have a detrimental effect on our environment both nationally and internationally," he said.
Environmental crime is any breach of a national or international environmental law or treaty that exists to ensure the conservation and sustainability of the world's environment, biodiversity, or natural resources.
INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Program assists its 188 member countries in the effective enforcement of national and international environmental laws and treaties in order to contribute to the ongoing conservation of the world's environment, biodiversity and natural resources. Crimes against the environment are a serious international problem that can directly or indirectly affect a nation's economy, security, or very survival. The impact can be felt in many ways, ranging from the depletion of natural resources to the destruction of habitat, and the from the extinction of species to human fatalities.
Environmental criminals often stand to gain high profits at a low risk from their activities. Increased coordination in investigation, additional resources, and effective deterrents are essential in order to combat the problem.
The U.S. is committed to working with INTERPOL and other international partners in preventing environmental crime and bringing perpetrators to justice.