A wildlife trafficker believed to be responsible for the death of hundreds of elephants was arrested for the third time in as many years in Gabon this weekend.
This is a unique opportunity for Gabonese authorities to show they are serious about ending wildlife criminality by ensuring this alleged trafficker is punished to the full extent of the law.
“Messimo Rodrigue was arrested this Sunday along with three accomplices in possession of 10 elephant tusks weighing a total of 93 kg,” according to the chief prosecutor of Franceville, Gilbert Barangolo, where Rodrigue was arrested.
“He has admitted to being an ivory trafficker,” Barangolo said, adding that the suspect was now in custody.
Luc Mathot, the head of the NGO Conservation Justice, which assists law enforcement authorities and initiated this operation, said that this was the third time Rodrigue was arrested for poaching or trafficking.
“Rodrigue was arrested once in 2010 and again in January this year. He is one of the most notorious wildlife criminals in the country.”
“We sincerely hope there will be no influence peddling or attempts to corrupt the process, and that this time he is severely punished,” Mathot added.
As he has already been sentenced for wildlife trafficking, if convicted, Rodrigue faces up to a year in prison and a CFA 20 million (USD 40’400; Euro 30’500) fine. More....