Sting Operation Seizes 43 Metric Tons of Wild-Animal Meat

International police agency Interpol uncovered illegal trade of animal products—including two polar bear carcasses—in 92 countries during a month-long operation.


International police agency Interpol seized 43 metric tons (more than 94,000 pounds) of illegal animal meat, including that from slaughtered bears, elephants, crocodiles, whales, and zebras. In collaboration with the World Customs Organization, Interpol carried out international sting operation “Thunderstorm” throughout the month of May and uncovered illegal trade of animal products in 92 countries, seizing 1,974 such discoveries as 1.3 tons of elephant ivory, 18 tons of eel meat, eight tons of pangolin scales, live animals such as as reptiles (27,000), birds (4,000), primates (48), and wild cats (14), and seven bear carcass—two of which were endangered polar bears. Interpol arrested 1,400 suspects connected to the illegal trade, including flight attendants in Los Angeles who were charged with trafficking live turtles in their luggage. “Wildlife trafficking groups use the same routes as criminals involved in other crime areas,” Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock said, “often hand-in-hand with tax evasion, corruption, money laundering, and violent crime.”

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