Operation Wild Web
More than 150 people faces charges as officials seize endangered tiger pelt, elephant ivory
USFWS/Associated Press – The undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) shows a Sumatran tiger skin/California confiscated by the USFWS. More than 150 people face federal and state charges after authorities disrupted wildlife trafficking operations involving tiger and leopard pelts, elephant ivory and live birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the arrests Thursday an undercover operation that included officers from 16 states, three federal agencies and three Asian countries.
By Associated Press, Published: July 11
The items were seized last August, although charges are still being brought in many cases. Six Southern California residents were charged Thursday with selling endangered species and animal parts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said.
“As a major platform for the illicit trade in wildlife, the Internet has become a dangerous place for animals,” said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an advocacy group that worked with the federal task force.
“Wildlife crimes are not only harmful to endangered species, they also pose serious threats to national and global security,” Flocken said.
Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $19 billion a year worldwide and ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking, the animal welfare group said in a report last year.
Federal laws regulating the sale of wildlife include the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act; the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Lacey Act, which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold.
Other states involved in “Operation Wild Web” were Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
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Rachel Weiner 11:06 AM ET Washington Post July 11, 2013
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