By Matthew Daly
More than 150 people face federal and state charges after authorities disrupted online wildlife trafficking operations involving tiger, leopard and jaguar pelts, elephant ivory and live birds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the arrests 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; live migratory birds such as the California scrub jay; whale teeth; elephant and walrus ivory; and a zebra pelt.
"Our message is clear and simple: The Internet is not an open marketplace for protected species," said Edward Grace, deputy assistant director for law enforcement for the Fish and Wildlife Service.
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.
The items were seized last August, although charges are still being brought in many cases. Six Southern California residents were charged Thursday with selling endangered species and animal parts, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said. More....