By Laura Sinpetru
News from Indonesia says that an investigation into the illegal wildlife trade that lasted for several months finally paid off when two suspected traffickers were taken into police custody by officers in Indonesia's Aceh province.
Information shared with the public says that the two wildlife trafficking suspects were arrested about a week and a half ago, on January 3.
In order to catch them, officers had to go undercover. More precisely, they pretended to be potential buyers, and offered to purchase illegal wildlife from the two traffickers.
The undercover sting operation led to the suspects' being caught in possession of stuffed Sumatran tigers, a clouded leopard, two golden cats and a sun bear skin, Mongabay reports.
The animals and animal parts were all confiscated. Police officers estimate that, taken together, they are worth several thousand dollars.
For the time being, authorities are investigating whether or not these two individuals are linked to – maybe even the “brains” behind – as many as five tiger poaching rings known to operate in Sumatra's northern forests.
Thus, authorities have reasons to believe that the animals and animal parts that these individuals gave people the chance to buy were provided by poachers guilty of carrying out illegal hunts in the Aceh province's central regions.
Commenting on the success of this undercover operation, Joe Walston, the Asia programs director at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said that, “This recent arrest shows that Indonesia is getting increasingly serious about not tolerating wildlife crime, which threaten its spectacular natural heritage.”
“We congratulate the group of law enforcement professionals that worked together on a local, regional, and national level to make this important arrest happen,” the conservationist went on to add.
If found guilty of the crimes they are accused of, the two suspected wildlife traffickers risk being sentenced to eight years behind bars. What's more, they could be made to pay fines of up to $8,200 (approximately €6,000) each.