Scores of wildlife traffickers face federal and state charges for selling protected species online last summer. The announcement today follows a coordinated undercover law enforcement operation led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and involving officers from 16 States, three Federal agencies, and three Asian countries.
Operation Wild Web resulted in 154 buy/busts in the United States: 30 involving Federal wildlife crimes and 124 for violations of State wildlife laws. It also exposed online trafficking of live birds and tiger and leopard pelts in Southeast Asia, where enforcement agency participation was coordinated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) Our message is clear and simple: The internet is not an open marketplace for protected species, said Edward Grace, the Services Deputy Assistant Director for Law Enforcement. State partners and our ASEAN-WEN counterparts were essential to the success of this operation, and that cooperation remains critical to disrupting wildlife trafficking on the Web and elsewhere.
Over a 14-day period running from August 8 through August 22, 2012, approximately 70 Service special agents and conservation officers from State wildlife agencies across the country teamed up to investigate illegal online commerce in wildlife. Agents from the National Park Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helped staff some of the 14 taskforce groups operating in the United States. Wildlife officers in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia simultaneously ran their own in-country Operation Wild Web taskforces targeting illegal wildlife internet sales.
The operation also benefited from the support of the Services Intelligence Unit, and was aided by non-investigative assistance from the Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare here in this country and by the Freeland Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society in Southeast Asia. More....