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Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking at the Department of Justice
African elephant, photo credit: Fish and Wildlife Service
The Fight against Wildlife trafficking
On February 11, 2014, President Obama released the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking demonstrating the United States’ deep commitment to ending this pernicious trade that threatens security, sustainable economic development, and the very survival of the world’s most iconic and endangered species. The National Strategy is an outcome of the July 1, 2013, Executive Order No. 13648, which established a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and charged it to develop the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking as a means to enhance coordination of U.S. Government efforts. The Task Force is co-chaired by the Secretaries of State and the Interior and the Attorney General, or their designees, and includes senior-level representatives from 14 additional federal departments and agencies.

The Strategy describes a “whole of government” approach to tackle this growing threat that identifies priority areas for interagency coordination, with the objectives of harnessing and strategically applying the full breadth of U.S. Government resources. The National Strategy identifies three key priorities: strengthening domestic and global enforcement, including assessing the related laws, regulations, and enforcement tools; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife; and building international cooperation and public-private partnerships.

The Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), together with United States Attorneys’ Offices across the country, is responsible for prosecuting international wildlife trafficking crimes, primarily under the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act, as well as crimes related to wildlife trafficking, such as smuggling, money laundering, and criminal conspiracy. The Department also works in the international sphere by assisting and working with enforcement partners in source, transit, and destination countries for illegal trade in protected wildlife. The Justice Department works in close collaboration with the State Department and various international organizations and initiatives, including on efforts to train investigators, prosecutors, and judges, resulting in more proactive international law enforcement operations. Working with the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies, ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Section and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country have successfully prosecuted numerous cases of illicit wildlife smuggling involving trafficking of rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory, South African leopard, Asian and African tortoises and reptiles, and many other forms of protected wildlife and protected plant species. A snapshot of these cases follows below.

WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING NEWS

Canadian Antiques Dealer Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Attempted Wildlife Smuggling - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Colorado Big Game Hunting Outfitter Sentenced to More Than Two Years for Role in Illegal Mountain Lion and Bobcat Hunts - Friday, November 21, 2014

Owners of Safari Company Indicted for Illegal Rhino Hunts - Thursday, October 23, 2014

Big Game Hunting Outfitter Pleads Guilty to Felony Conspiracy Charge in Connection with Illegal Mountain Lion and Bobcat Hunting Activities - Friday, August 15, 2014

Big Game Hunting Guide Pleads Guilty to Felony Conspiracy Charge in Connection with Colorado Outfitter’s Illegal Mountain Lion and Bobcat Hunting Activities - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Canadian Antique Dealer Charged with Trafficking Wildlife - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Long Island Fish Dealer Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Falsifying Federal Records, and Lacey Act Violations - July 16, 2014

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Rhino and Ivory Smuggling Conspiracy - Tuesdsay, June 24, 2014

Ringleader of International Rhino Smuggling Conspiracy Sentenced in New Jersey to 70 Months in Prison for Wildlife Trafficking Crimes - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher Remarks for District of Columbia Bar Association Panel on U.S. Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. Washington, DC - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Brooklyn Fish Dealer Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two California Men Indicted for Selling Endangered Black Rhinoceros Horns - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

National Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and Interpol Officials to Mark World Wildlife Day - Thursday, February 27, 2014

Narwhal Tusk Trafficker Convicted of Conspiracy and Money Laundering - Friday, February 14, 2014

Tropical Fish Importer Pleads Guilty in New York Federal Court to Piranha Import Violations - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Irish National Sentenced to Serve 14 Months in Prison for Trafficking of Endangered Rhinoceros Horns - Friday, January 10, 2014

2013

Antiques Dealer Sentenced To 37 Months In Prison For Wildlife Smuggling - Thursday, December 5, 2013

Smuggling Ring Sentenced in Los Angeles for Criminal Trafficking of Endangered Rhinoceros Horn - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Antiques Dealer Sentenced in New York City for Crimes Relating to Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Rhinoceros Horns - Thursday, February 14, 2013

2012

Federal Officials Announce Nationwide Crackdown on Black Market Rhino Trade - Thursday, February 23, 2012

 

Last Updated: November 2014