(NewsReady.com) – Cruella de Vil might be a Disney villain, but people like her really exist. US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) has called wildlife trafficking one of the most profitable natural resource crimes. It includes selling and harvesting wildlife and wildlife products. A global campaign against the practice recently resulted in hundreds of arrests.
On December 12, the World Customs Organization (WCO) announced the results of a global operation that was carried out from October 2 through October 27. The joint operation was carried out by the WCO and Interpol. Police officers across multiple jurisdictions and 133 countries participated in the event.
Approximately 500 people were arrested worldwide throughout the sting. They also confiscated over 2,000 plants and animals that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) protects. The seizures included almost 700 pounds of ivory that came from the tusks of elephants, 53 live primates, over 1,300 rare birds, four big cats, rhino horns, lion’s paws and teeth, leopard skins, and thousands of turtle eggs.
Many of the offenses were linked to organized criminal groups. However, some people were caught exploiting legitimate online platforms by trying to sell illegal goods through them.
WCO Secretary-General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya issued a statement saying the operation was “part of a comprehensive strategy; customs play a pivotal role in disrupting criminal networks involved in the illegal wildlife trade.” Authorities were able to make the seizures and arrests by enforcing strict border controls across the world, making it hard for smugglers to move the illegal goods. They searched hundreds of vehicles at checkpoints throughout the countries involved.
Police dogs and scanners were able to find the animals and plants inside suitcases, timber shipments, and in other places. Interpol Secretary-General Jurgen Stock said these types of crimes hurt everyone because they deprive nations of “their national assets” and are usually linked to other crimes, like corruption and armed violence.
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