Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Statements of Associate Attorney General Tony West and Acting Assistant Attorney General of Enrd on the National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking

Today, the White House released the National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking.  The Department of Justice, along with the Departments of State and the Interior, are co-chairs of the U.S. Task Force established by President Obama to lead the implementation of this strategy.  On Thursday, Associate Attorney General Tony West will lead the U.S. Delegation’s participation at the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

"The Department is pleased to be a part of this interagency approach to combating illegal wildlife trafficking,” said Associate Attorney General West.  “Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions, has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years, with the increasing involvement of organized transnational criminal syndicates.  This trade undermines security, fuels corruption and contributes to the spread of disease, and it is decimating iconic animal populations.  The National Strategy identifies priority areas for interagency coordination, with the objectives of harnessing and strategically applying the full breadth of U.S. government resources.  Combating this problem will also require the shared understanding, commitment, and efforts of the world’s governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, corporations, civil society and individuals.   At this week’s London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, we hope other countries will join us in taking ambitious action to combat wildlife trafficking.”
The Department of Justice has long worked to protect threatened and endangered wildlife species through its enforcement of the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act, as well as related criminal statutes. 

“The president has called upon DOJ and more than a dozen other federal agencies to combine forces to more effectively battle this pernicious trade, which is growing at an alarming rate and threatens the survival of protected species both at home and abroad,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert Dreher for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “The release of today’s National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking is a welcome next step in our longstanding efforts to protect threatened and endangered wildlife species.  Strong enforcement is critical to stopping those who kill and traffic in these animals, whether on land or in the oceans.  At the same time, the Strategy recognizes that enforcement alone is not enough to stop traffickers.  We must also work to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products.  This is not a fight that the United States can win alone; under the Strategy, we will build relationships with local and global partners who share our commitment to ending wildlife trafficking.”

The Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country bring criminal prosecutions under these laws against, for example, people who are found smuggling wildlife and plants into the United States. There is a major worldwide black market for some endangered species or products made from them.  The main federal agencies that the Division represents in this area are the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014