IFAW congratulates African partner LATF on arrests of ivory kingpins

IFAW congratulates African partner LATF on arrests of ivory kingpins
Friday, 5 August, 2016
Nairobi, Kenya

IFAW congratulates the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) on conducting a successful operation from July 28th to August 2nd that led to the seizure of 1.5 tonnes of elephant ivory and the arrest of two ivory trafficking kingpins in the Republic of Congo.

“I congratulate the Regional Director of LATF Bonaventure Ebayi and his team for the commitment and perseverance they have shown to ensure that these kingpins are arrested and charged,” said James Isiche Regional Director IFAW East Africa.

Investigations into the two detainees who own shipping companies in the Republic of Congo began in 2014 after the seizure of 1,493 kilograms ivory in Vietnam and other ivory seizures by Thai, Vietnamese, and Singaporean authorities in 2015. Southeast Asian investigators noted similarities among the various seizures. The two arrests are the result of ongoing cooperation between African and Asian law enforcement agencies in the ARREST in Africa (Africa’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking) and ARREST in Asia (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking) networks.

As a member of the ARREST Africa consortium, IFAW has partnered with various law enforcement institutions in Africa to build the capacity of law enforcement officers, most notably LATF, INTERPOL and, CITES management authorities to strengthen the law enforcement response to combat wildlife crime at the regional level. These trainings endeavour to improve cooperation among law enforcement authorities and ensure that law enforcement officials across Africa are better equipped to combat wildlife trafficking and reporting of wildlife crimes.

Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Limited availability of legal ivory in China purchased form the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephant to meet market needs.

“IFAW is tackling every link on the ivory trafficking chain. On the ground through interventions that seek to improve the detection, interception and apprehension of wildlife trafficking at various ports of entry and exit, through our tenBoma network in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service to disrupt organized wildlife crime networks and stop poaching before it happens; and our demand reduction work in China,” said Mr. Isiche. “Working effectively together we can defeat the criminals profiting from the illegal trade in wildlife.”

Ivory trafficking can only be effectively fought by targeting the networks that are responsible for trafficking. The long-term concerted efforts should be to stop the cartels before they kill elephants. Data collection and analysis is needed to further understand how transnational criminal syndicates operate with the aim of disrupting them. Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities – valued at billions of US dollars annually. It ranks in the top most lucrative transnational organized crimes, behind drug trafficking, money laundering and counterfeiting. According to an IFAW report Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, ivory smuggling and the wildlife trade has been linked to other forms of organized crime such as terrorism, illegal arms and drug trafficking.

Ends

About IFAW (The International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. High Resolution photos are available at www.ifawimages.com

About ARREST Program

Africa’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking (ARREST) is an alliance of NGOs working with governments and the private sector to build Africa’s capacity to combat transnational threats to its wildlife.  ARREST partners include African Wildlife Foundation, Freeland, and IFAW.  ARREST provides counter-poaching, counter-trafficking, and networking support to government agencies, with financial and technical support from the US Government, including the State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

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