We help stop wildlife trafficking crimes.
Wildlife crime and illegal timber harvesting are not local crimes. They are sophisticated, they are global, and they are highly organized. Global wildlife trafficking alone has been estimated to generate $23 billion a year.
Wildlife trafficking at this scale requires complex logistics and strong networks, the calling cards of organized crime: “Transnational organized criminal groups operate across borders; their illegal behaviors include laundering the proceeds of their crimes, corrupting officials or engaging in corrupt acts, and actively working to obstruct justice. Such groups make use of sophisticated, complex transportation and finance networks.”
Awareness of wildlife and timber trafficking has increased, and authorities are seizing more illegal shipments. But this is not enough to stop the illegal trade. For organized criminals, these seizures are merely the cost of doing business. “Despite these large-scale seizures, the number of investigations that follow them remains disproportionately low.” Arrests of low-level poachers and smugglers alone is not effective, as these individuals are easily replaced.
Most victim countries lack the capacity and resources to prosecute and dismantle sophisticated organized crime rings or are hobbled by corruption. Even countries with highly developed judicial and law enforcement agencies often lack the resources to pursue complex transnational wildlife and timber trafficking enterprises.
The International Wildlife Trust fills an important gap.
Our people have decades of experience in investigating and prosecuting sophisticated transnational organized crime cases in United States courts. We know exactly what it takes to dismantle an international trafficking operation. Together with our partners, we have the ability and the reach to assemble cases against the leaders and managers of these international wildlife trafficking groups, then work closely with the authorities in the United States and other victim countries to bring the traffickers to justice.
Our organization has experts adept at extracting key information from public and commercial sources, allowing us to track the workings of the criminal enterprise. We work with other organizations and experts who can provide context and complete the picture of the criminal group and its trafficking activities.
We provide information to law enforcement authorities in a form that they can use and that allows them to complete the investigation. We understand, from our long experience in government, what information they need, and we do the legwork where they lack the resources to pursue leads themselves.
The result is that law enforcement and judicial authorities get what they need to strike at the key nodes of organized crime groups, arrest their leaders and cripple their ability to conduct their complex international business. By dismantling the criminal organizations, we can greatly reduce the flow of illegal wildlife and timber going to international markets and cut back on the poaching of animals and harvesting of illegal timber in the wild.