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Illegal wildlife trade: Interpol announces hundreds of arrests

California 18

December 6th, 2022

The “Thunder 2022” operation made it possible to make nearly 2,200 seizures and identify 934 suspects, according to a preliminary report.

A major international operation against the illegal trade in wildlife and timber has led to hundreds of arrests, the dismantling of criminal networks and major seizures of animals, plants and timber, Interpol announced on Tuesday.

Called “Thunder 2022”, the operation coordinated from October 3 to 30 by Interpol and the World Customs Organization (WCO) mobilized police, customs and intelligence services from 125 nations, the largest number of countries having participated in these operations carried out since 2017.

Through routine inspections and targeted checks, hundreds of packages, suitcases, vehicles or boats were examined, often using sniffer dogs and X-ray scanners, as part of this operation aimed at enforcing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

An impressive preliminary assessment

According to a preliminary report, “Thunder 2022” has already made it possible to make nearly 2,200 seizures and to identify 934 suspects and 141 companies suspected of engaging in illegal sales.

Among the seizures made, Interpol recorded 119 felines, 34 primates, 136 body parts of primates, 25 rhinoceros horns, nine pangolins, 389 kg of scales and derivatives of pangolins, 750 birds and more than 450 bird parts.

It also mentions the seizures (reported in units or in kg according to national police practices) of nearly 780 kg and 516 pieces of elephant ivory, 1,795 reptiles and nearly half a ton of parts and derivatives of reptiles, 4337 and 2813 kg of marine products (corals, eels, sea cucumbers, etc.), and 1190 turtles.

Finally, Interpol reports the seizure of rosewood, cacti, orchids and several tons of other plants.

Around the world

Operations have taken place in Namibia, Angola – where an Asian citizen was arrested with rhinoceros horns – or Malawi.

In Asia, Thailand reported several seizures of turtles from East Africa and hundreds of live reptiles from Europe, while in Indonesia there were two large seizures of timber bound for the Middle East and Asia.

In India, some 1,200 reptiles (iguanas, pythons, monitor lizards and turtles) declared as “ornamental fish” and packed in cardboard boxes were seized.

While Europe is an increasingly important destination for protected wildlife species, French services have intercepted Central African reptiles hidden in luggage and British services have seized several pieces of ivory.

Parrots, iguana eggs, coral, crocodile leather products, caviar and shark meat have been seized at several international airports in the United States.


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