More than 150 accused of online wildlife trafficking
More than 150 people face charges after authorities disrupted online wildlife trafficking operations involving tiger and leopard pelts, elephant ivory and live birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the arrests on Thursday after an undercover operation that included officers from 16 states, three federal agencies and three Asian countries.
Items seized under “Operation Wild Web” include the pelts of endangered big cats such as the Sumatran tiger, leopard and jaguar; whale teeth; elephant and walrus ivory; and a zebra pelt.
Edward Grace, deputy assistant director for law enforcement for the Fish and Wildlife Service clearly stated, “our message is clear and simple: The Internet is not an open marketplace for protected species.”
Working with counterparts in California, Texas, New York, Florida and Alaska and other states, federal officials targeted illegal wildlife sellers who operate through Craigslist, eBay and other Internet marketplaces and classified ads. Wildlife officers in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia ran similar operations at the same time.
Many of the items were seized last August, but charges are still being brought in many cases.
The internet has become a major platform for the illegal trade in wildlife across the globe. These crimes online do not only harm endangered animals but are part of wider crime syndicates that pose threats to international security.
Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $19 billion a year worldwide and ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking, the animal welfare group said in a report last year.
TigerTime are working to put an end to the trade in all tiger parts from all sources. You can help us by signing up at https://davidshepherd.org/our-work/tigers and by donating here to fund our vital field projects and undercover investigations into the illegal wildlife trade.