NANFA-- Organized Crime and Drug Cartels are moving into Wildlife

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Mon, 24 Jun 2002 02:19:17 -0400

On an even more paranoid train of thought I find myself wondering how
long until we see protection rackets extorting payment from small time
breeders. Many of us think the system is bad, just wait till these guys
start showing up on our doorsteps.

Another never ending excuse to wage endless war for endless peace.


> 10) Organized Gangs Moving Into Wildlife Trafficking A Report From
> Traffic-UK
> June 17, 2002
> Organized criminal gangs including the Russian Mafia and drugs cartels are
> trading in highly profitable wildlife products by using existing smuggling
> routes for illegal commodities, such as small arms, drugs and humans says a
> WWF and TRAFFIC report released today. According to the report,
> International Wildlife Trade and Organized Crime, 50 per cent of wildlife
> criminals prosecuted nationwide have previous convictions for drugs,
> violence, theft and firearms offences. There is strong evidence that this
> is reflected globally as serious, often violent, organised crime groups get
> involved in the most lucrative areas of illegal wildlife trade, such as
> caviar smuggling. In Brazil, recent estimates suggest that up to 40 per
> cent of illegal drug shipments are combined with wildlife. The US Fish and
> Wildlife Service has reported that more than a third of cocaine seized in
> the US in 1993 was associated with wildlife imports. In the same year a US
> Customs inspector in Miami noticed an unnatural bulge in a live boa
> constrictor which was part of a shipment of 312 animals from Colombia. An
> investigation revealed that cocaine-filled condoms had been forcibly
> inserted into 225 of the snakes. A total of 39 kilograms of cocaine was
> recovered from the reptiles, all of which died. Stuart Chapman, WWF-UK Head
> of Species Programme said: "This report confirms what many have suspected.
> The huge profits that can be made from wildlife trafficking are acting as a
> magnet to organised crime networks. The profits, sometimes worth up to 800
> per cent, combined with the low risks of detection and lack of serious
> punishment make illegal wildlife trade very attractive to criminals." Three
> actions are needed to combat the organised, illegal wildlife trade in the
> UK; identify illicit markets; identify people and networks within the
> criminal organisations, and; hinder criminals by creating stronger
> legislation, enhanced enforcement and closing legal loopholes. Crawford
> Allan, TRAFFIC's Global Enforcement Co-ordinator, said: "We believe the
> main problems in the UK are a lack of investment in wildlife law
> enforcement and the minimal punishments under wildlife trade laws that do
> not act as a deterrent to criminals. To give the necessary powers to our
> enforcement agencies the penalties under COTES need to be strengthened to
> ensure that the maximum penalties are increased to five years, which will
> make offences arrestable." In April the Government took a significant step
> forward in tackling the illegal wildlife trade by creating the National
> Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit (NWCIU). This will gather information on
> markets, criminals and networks but will still leave the enforcers
> powerless to arrest criminals for wildlife trade offences involving
> critically endangered species. The report highlights four clear links
> between illegal wildlife trade and organised crime: - The use of legal
> shipments of wildlife to conceal drugs. At Heathrow, in 1996, while
> inspecting a consignment of live snails, customs officers discovered that
> they were packed with heroin. - Enforcers in several countries have
> reported the use of venomous snakes by criminals to guard or conceal drug
> caches and consignments. - The parallel trafficking of drugs and wildlife
> along shared smuggling routes. In Latin America, powerful drug cartels
> operate in the countries where many endangered species live and use their
> covert distribution networks to profitably trade in these species as well
> as drugs. The money from drug dealing is also laundered by setting up
> trading businesses such as illegal logging operations. - Wildlife products
> are used as a currency to 'barter' for drugs, and to launder drug traffic
> money. For example 'plane loads' of smuggled birds from Australia have been
> exchanged for heroin in Bangkok, with the drugs being flown back to
> Australia for sale. As part of the campaign WWF and TRAFFIC are encouraging
> members of the public to write to their MP expressing concern at the UK's
> current wildlife trade laws. People can support the campaign by calling +44
> 1483 426 333 or visiting the WWF website For further information contact:
> Anthony Field, t: +44 1483 412379, m: 07768 867275, email:
> Maija Sirola, t: +44 1223 277427, email:
> Editor's notes
> A PDF Version of the report is available at
> It is 34 pages long.
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