Wildlife trafficking is a multibillion dollar transnational organized criminal activity and a critical conservation issue. The United States is a leader in the fight against the illicit trade in wildlife and INL plays an important role in the development and implementation of anti-wildlife trafficking policies around the world.
INL’s experts draw on our extensive experience combatting other forms of transnational crime and apply it to the illicit trafficking of wildlife around the world. INL also fights environmental crimes beyond wildlife trafficking such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and illegal logging, as well as facilitative crimes that enable wildlife trafficking such as corruption and money laundering.
INL’s Approach: INL takes a criminal-justice approach to wildlife trafficking, focusing efforts around halting poaching, trafficking, and demand. INL efforts include:
- Strengthening legislative frameworks of partner nations to ensure effective laws are in place to deter, investigate, prosecute, and sanction wildlife criminals;
- Enhancing investigative and law enforcement functions of our foreign enforcement partners, including support for park rangers;
- Developing capacities to prosecute and adjudicate wildlife crimes and related corruption worldwide; and
- Supporting cross-border regional and global law enforcement communication and cooperation.
INL works with agencies such as Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Department of Justice Environmental Natural Resource Division to implement counter-wildlife trafficking courses at INL’s International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs) in Bangkok, Thailand, Budapest, Hungary and in Gaborone, Botswana. These courses allow subject-matter experts from the U.S. to share their expertise in investigating and prosecuting wildlife crime. INL also partners with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) members such as the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Customs Organization (WCO), and INTERPOL to deliver training and capacity building that has benefitted nearly 30 countries and more than 1,00 criminal justice officials.
In addition, INL invests in innovative research and pilot programs. For example, in cooperation with UNODC and the World Bank, INL sponsored groundbreaking forensic analysis of DNA from major elephant ivory seizures, resulting in the identification of key elephant poaching hotspots. INL also piloted canine detection units at key transportation chokepoints in Africa. These canine units have been successful at intercepting smuggled ivory and other illicit wildlife products as they move through the illegal supply chain to destination markets.
Bilateral Programs: In a growing number of countries, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania, INL is providing more concentrated assistance tailored to the unique needs of these countries. For example, in Indonesia, INL provides training and technical assistance that has helped develop an Environmental Crimes and Natural Resources Crimes Task Force. As a result, there have been a number of successful prosecutions of land-clearing arsonists with assistance from task force members. In Kenya, INL is collaborating with NGOs to enhance law enforcement investigative capabilities, and increase their prosecutorial and judicial capacity to convict wildlife criminals. These dramatically improve the ability of prosecutors and judges to enforce Kenya’s recently revised wildlife law.
Diplomatic Engagement: INL galvanizes the engagement of the international criminal justice community on the threat posed by wildlife/environmental crime through work with international organizations such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Pathfinder Dialogue, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), UN Crime Commission, World Economic Forum, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and G-7 Roma-Lyon Group (RLG). INL also works bilaterally with foreign partners, including through the U.S.-China Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation (JLG), and the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership.