Combat Wildlife Crime - ChinaCombatting illegal wildlife trade in China
(Shanghai, China – 11 April 2023) More than 20 countries and regions across Asia and Oceania have joined forces to combat wildlife smuggling amid an increased risk of cross-border endangered species trafficking.
IFAW, together with TRAFFIC (Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce) and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), supported a meeting that kicked off the joint action on April 11 in Shanghai.
Customs representatives from more than 20 countries and regions including China, Vietnam, Australia, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore etc., attended the meeting which was co-hosted by the World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office-Pacific (WCO RILOP), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) and Vietnam Customs. During the meeting the fifth Operation of Mekong Dragon (OMD) was announced, which was proposed by China Customs and Vietnam Customs in 2018, and aims to enhance information and intelligence exchange and cooperative enforcement efforts amongst customs across the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) to prevent and intercept illegal cross-border smuggling of drugs, endangered wildlife etc,.
There is concern that as global exchanges and trades gradually recover from the impact of COVID-19, there is an increased risk of cross-border trafficking of endangered species. This is evidenced by the several high-profile wildlife smuggling seizures already recorded since the second half of 2022.
In July, 2022, Malaysian customs reported a wildlife product smuggling case in Port Klang, in which up to 6,000 kilograms of ivory was seized along with other wildlife products including rhinoceros horn, pangolin scales, and tiger teeth. On March 20, 2023, Vietnam seized about seven tons of ivory smuggled from Angola in a container declared as peanuts. This was the largest case of ivory smuggling in Vietnam's Hai Phong port so far.
Representatives exchanged views on recent law enforcement actions, typical cases in their countries and analysed the effectiveness of OMD in previous years. Ever since wildlife smuggling was included in OMD in 2020, a total of more than 210 wildlife seizures had been made as of OMD IV in 2022.
“At present, the global trafficking of endangered species is showing rebound, requiring stronger regional collaboration and vigilance.” Said Grace Ge Gabriel, Senior Advisor for Asia Affairs with IFAW,
“IFAW commits to supporting law enforcement cooperation among agencies along the entire wildlife trafficking chain, based on our global network of offices in Africa, Middle East, Asia, Europe and Americas.”
The OMD V will last for six months from April to September.
Notes to editor:
About Operation Mekong Dragon:
In the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), methamphetamine production and trafficking as well as the opium poppy cultivation are expending as market demand for illicit drugs remains high. The diversion and trafficking of precursor chemicals and the emergence of new synthetic drugs are also a challenge. With the drugs problems arising, each nation in GMS realized that the problem could not be handled independent of one another. In view of the above background and needs, China Customs and Vietnam Customs proposed Operation Mekong Dragon in coordination with RILO AP. Customs administrations in the GMS are invited to participate, including customs agencies from Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. And Korea Customs Service, as the host of RILO AP, might be invited as an observer to take part in some activities of the Operation, if applicable. Within the limits of the law of each country, the objective of Operation Mekong Dragon is to enhance information and intelligence exchange and cooperative enforcement efforts amongst customs across the GMS to prevent and intercept illegal cross-border movements of drugs and chemical precursors.
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