Operation WENDI saw INTERPOL and IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) team up to target criminal organizations behind the illegal trafficking of ivory in West and Central African countries including the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Guinea Conakry.
The law enforcement agencies involved in the five-month-long operation coordinated by INTERPOL and supported by IFAW have arrested 66 people, seized 50 ivory tusks, 3,918 ivory items, 88 military grade weapons and $40k USD in cash. Also seized were 148 animal parts and 222 live animals including crocodiles and parrots destined to be illegally trafficked around the world.
"Elephants are under more threat today than they have been in years, this is why we need a completely coordinated effort by the international law enforcement community starting in source countries if we are to have any chance of success against the crime syndicates who are behind the slaughter of elephants for their ivory," said Celine Sissler-Bienvenu, Director of IFAW France and Francophone Africa.
Ahead of the operation, a training programme hosted by Ivory Coast and sponsored by IFAW brought together officers from participating countries to learn the latest in search and seizure techniques and allow them to exchange information and expertise.
"WENDI is one of a series of operations planned to tackle this crime which threatens both biodiversity and civil society, and its success is due to the hard work of the officers on the ground and the strong cooperation between the involved agencies and organizations," said David Higgins, Manager of the INTERPOL Environmental Crime Programme. More....