Wildlife trafficking: Organized crime hit hard by joint WCO-INTERPOL global enforcement operation

Heritage Stewardship – Wildlife

Wildlife trafficking: Organized crime hit hard by joint WCO-INTERPOL global enforcement operation
10 July 2019
A joint worldwide customs and police operation has resulted in the seizure of large quantities of protected flora and fauna across every continent.

From 4 to 30 June, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL coordinated Operation Thunderball, with police and customs administrations leading joint enforcement operations against wildlife crime across 109 countries.

A team of customs and police officers together coordinated global enforcement activities from an Operations Coordination Centre at INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore.

Intelligence and risk indicators compiled prior to the Operation assisted Customs administrations to perform improved case selection, and guided frontline Customs and Police officers, as well as wildlife authorities, to target specific high-risk routings, conveyances and commodities, with a specific focus on unlawful activities with a transnational dimension.

Worldwide environmental impact
Initial results have led to the identification of almost 600 suspects, triggering arrests worldwide. Further arrests and prosecutions are foreseen as ongoing investigations progress.

1,828 seizures were made during the Operation, including:
23 live primates;
30 big cats and large quantities of animal parts;
440 pieces of elephant tusks and an additional 545 Kg of ivory;
Five rhino horns;
More than 4,300 birds;
Just under 1,500 reptiles and nearly 10,000 turtles and tortoises;
Almost 7,700 wildlife parts from all species;
2,550 cubic metres of timber (equivalent to 74 truckloads);
More than 2,600 plants;
Almost 10,000 marine wildlife items…