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Using Counter-Narcotics Methods to Stop Wildlife Trafficking


Illegally trafficked animal products are displayed in a warehouse at the National Wildlife Property Repository in US. (File)

Animals are being killed at an unprecedented rate, not at the hands of small-time poachers, but by well-equipped, well-organized, global criminal networks.

Using Counter-Narcotics Methods to Stop Wildlife
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The illegal trafficking of endangered wildlife has escalated to alarming levels. Animals are being killed at an unprecedented rate, not at the hands of small-time poachers, but by well-equipped, well-organized, global criminal networks.

“Wildlife trafficking is a multibillion dollar transnational organized crime activity and a critical conservation issue. It pushes iconic species to the brink of extinction, restricts economic development, threatens security and stability, and undermines the rule of law,” said Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Richard Glenn.For these reasons, stopping wildlife trafficking is a priority for the U.S. government.

In many respects, wildlife trafficking is not much different from other violent, destructive, bloody, and profitable criminal enterprises.So, it makes sense that the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, or INL, with its long experience in countering transnational criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, should play a key role in the development and implementation of anti-wildlife trafficking policies around the world.Indeed, INL has found that the tools and resources developed fighting other forms of trafficking can be applied to the wildlife arena, said Mr. Glenn.

Criminal organizations move freely across national borders as they traffic poached wildlife from source countries to buyers all over the world. “If these criminals cannot find safe haven for their destructive, bloody activities in one jurisdiction, but are able to in others, then our ability to stop them is greatly diminished,” said Mr. Glenn.

So, the U.S. partners with numerous countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America to help improve their enforcement; investigative, prosecutorial, and legislative capacities; and cooperation within and across governments.

“We are working to build connections between source regions of Africa, Latin America, and Asia for wildlife products with the demand countries. We do this by funding exchange visits and joint trainings to build trust, exchange information, and eventually take down whole networks of traffickers instead of individual poachers,” said Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Glenn.

“The United States Government will continue to lead global efforts to end the gruesome trafficking of elephants, rhinos, and other endangered species.We stand ready to work together with more partner nations in this effort.”

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