Operation Against Wildlife Trafficking Nets 25 Seizures
The first customs-centric regional operation focusing on wildlife trafficking in the Western hemisphere resulted in 25 seizures at airports and international mail facilities in Miami and Los Angeles, according to a press release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Items seized included queen conch shell meat, sea turtle shells and skulls, elephant meat, tiger teeth and ivory pendants. Many of the confiscated goods are regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and some are prohibited under the Endangered Species Act.
ICE states that wildlife trafficking is the fourth-largest global illegal trade activity after narcotics, humans and counterfeit products. It has an estimated financial value of $10 billion and damages ecosystems, threatens extinction of species, promotes economic instability, funds organized crime and spreads infectious diseases. Commonly smuggled wildlife items include rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory, rare fish bladders and exotic animals.
The recent operation was primarily organized by the World Customs Organization’s Regional Intelligence Liaison Office and Peruvian and U.S. customs agencies, which worked closely with partner countries, police, wildlife authorities and the CITES secretariat. Participating countries used the WCO’s secured Customs Enforcement Network Communication Platform to exchange information and promote cross-regional coordination in enforcement efforts.