19 November 2014
UN-backed joint INTERPOL global operation targets ‘most wanted’ environmental fugitives
Nine fugitives are being pursued as part of a UN-backed joint INTERPOL global operation targeting individuals wanted for serious environmental – including wildlife – crime.
Operation INFRA-Terra (International Fugitive Round Up and Arrest) is supported by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), which is a collaborative effort of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Customs Organization. INTERPOL is leading the operation, which is the first of its kind. The ICCWC – with a contribution from the European Union – is offering technical and financial support for the operation.
The initial phase of the operation will extend efforts beyond national borders and across range, transit and destination states in support of a collective global response to fight such crime. The partners are asking for the public’s assistance in providing information that could help track down the suspects whose cases were selected for the initial phase.
Wildlife crime has become a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries. The extent of the response required to effectively address the threat is often beyond the sole remit of environmental or wildlife law enforcement agencies, or even of one country or region alone.
In June, the joint UN Environment Programme-INTERPOL Environmental Crime Crisis report, pointed to an increased awareness of, and response to, the growing global threat, but called for further concerted action and issues recommendations aimed at strengthening action against the organised criminal networks profiting from the trade. Wildlife and forest crime also play a serious role in threat finance to organised crime and non-state armed groups, including terrorist organisations.
Combined estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UNODC, UNEP and INTERPOL place the monetary value of all environmental crime — which includes logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, illegal fisheries, illegal mining and dumping of toxic waste—at between USD 70 and USD 213 billion each year. Illegal logging and forest crime has an estimated worth of USD 30 to USD 100 billion annually.