Ivory Kingpin Arrested
In a rare glimmer of good news in the ongoing battle to save elephants and rhinos from organised crime one of West Africa's major kingpins has been arrested said Togo's environment minister.
According to media reports the trafficker, Emile N'Bouke, has been dealing in ivory since the 70s. He may be responsible for as many as 10,000 elephant deaths and was caught with 700kg of ivory. He was arrested on Tuesday at his shop in Lome, Togo.
"For IFAW it's absolutely vital that these kingpins are caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Given the organized nature of the illegal trafficking in elephant ivory and rhino horn, getting the man at the top is a really big deal and will go a long way in empowering the enforcement officers who are up against some huge challenges to combat trans boundary wildlife crime," said Kelvin Alie, Director of IFAW's Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness Program. "IFAW's ongoing work and partnership with INTERPOL and national governments across Africa and Asia is geared towards targeting every link on the illegal wildlife trafficking chain and we see the judiciary as a very important next step in dealing with this smuggler. It's essential that he is prosecuted and placed behind bars."
There has been a steady stream of large-scale ivory seizures so far in 2013. The last month has seen two massive seizures in Hong Kong, one of which came from Togo and the other originated in Nigeria and the European Union’s biggest ever seizure of rhino horn when they confiscated 24 White rhino horns and arrested 16 suspects in the Czech Republic.
This will send a very strong signal and empower other law enforcers across Africa to go after these kingpins and will certainly help with other efforts on the way to disrupt and dismantle these wildlife criminal networks who are operating with relative ease across Africa. IFAW congratulates the government of Togo and local NGOs like LAGA and others who have made this high-level arrest possible."
Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated US$19- billion per year, and poaching and worldwide insecurity is connected. Often, the proceeds are used to fund and arm rebel and militia groups who are willing to slaughter imperiled species and kill thousands of people to obtain elephant ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife parts.
As part of a worldwide capacity building initiative IFAW trains law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean. The organization recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Interpol, the first ever signed by Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme with an NGO. IFAW and Interpol have collaborated on numerous projects since 2005 including Interpol’s largest-ever illegal ivory trade operation in 2012.