International Wildlife Crimestoppers

Protecting The World's Fish & Wildlife Resources

Operation Thunderstorm Target Global Wildlife Crimes

PRESS RELEASE

Month-long transcontinental operation hit wildlife criminals hard

The largest ever global operation results in 1,974 seizures and the identification of 1,400 suspects

1.3 tonnes of elephant ivory, 8 tonnes of pangolins scales, 4,000 birds and 27,000 reptiles among the specimens seized.

Geneva, 19 June 2018An international operation against the illegal trade in wild animals and plants including timber has seen hundreds of seizures worldwide as well as arrests of suspects.

Code-named “Thunderstorm” and targeting the people and networks behind global wildlife crime, the operation involved police, customs, border, wildlife, forestry and environment agencies from 92 countries and resulted in millions of dollars-worth of seizures.

The month-long operation, from 1 to 31 May, has so far brought 1,974 seizures and the identification of some 1,400 suspects, triggering arrests and investigations worldwide. Further arrests and prosecutions are foreseen as ongoing investigations unfold.

According to INTERPOL, total worldwide seizures reported to date include:

  • 43 tonnes of wild meat (from bear, elephant, crocodile, whale and zebra etc.)
  • 1.3 tonnes of raw and processed elephant ivory
  • 27,000 reptiles (including approximately 869 alligators/crocodiles, 9,590 turtles and 10,000 snakes)
  • almost 4,000 birds, including pelicans, ostriches, parrots and owls
  • several tonnes of wood and timber
  • 48 live primates
  • 14 big cats (tiger, lion, leopard and jaguar)
  • the carcasses of 7 bears, including 2 polar bears

Canadian authorities intercepted a container holding 18 tonnes of eel meat arriving from Asia.  Thought to be poached from Europe originally, the juvenile glass eels had been reared in Asia before being dispatched to North American markets for consumption.

An integrated global response

The second in a global ‘Thunder’ series initiated by the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group, Operation Thunderstorm was coordinated by INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO) in conjunction with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), which includes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat, UNODC and the World Bank.

Operation Thunderstorm has seen significant seizures at global level, showing how coordinated global operations can maximize impact,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

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