Posts Tagged With: operation crash

How Does the US Tackle Rhino Poaching?

How does the US combat rhino poaching:

Operation Crash

Working under the US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS),  150 law enforcement officers were recruited to tackle all aspects of U.S. involvement in the black market rhino horn trade. They have infiltrated the undercover horn smuggling ring and since 2012 have netted 15 arrests and 7 convictions throughout the country.

Most recently as part of Operation Crash, the owner of a Chinese antique shop and ringleader of a horn smuggling conspiracy was sentenced in New Jersey.  The man was given 70 months in prison for wildlife trafficking. Although not seemingly long enough, it was of the longest ever imposed in the United States for a wildlife smuggling offense.

“As this case clearly demonstrates, rhino trafficking is increasingly organized, well financed and a threat to the rule of law. The United States is resolved to bring wildlife traffickers to justice, ” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Hirsch

In addition to coordinating sting operations, the USFWS recently officially listed the white rhino as a threatened species. This is a crucial action, as it closes a huge loophole in trafficking of all rhino horns. (see previous post: US Closes Loophole in Horn Trafficking)

obama rhino



Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

No Country is Innocent

Illegal wildlife trade of horns and tusks is a lucrative worldwide business. In recent years it has exploded into a black market worth of approximately $20 billion a year.  No one seems to be exempt from this growing tragedy. Most obvious involvement lies in Africa, China and Vietnam; but Ireland, the US, and now even the Czech Republic and Poland have blood on their hands.

Black rhinoceros and Africa elephant, Africa

To police the snowballing issue,  the US  has stepped up involvement with Operation Crash. It is an ongoing nationwide criminal investigation led by the Fish and Wildlife Service, started in 2010,  that is addressing all aspects of US involvement in the black market rhino horn trade.

The first phase of this probe (focused on the unlawful purchase and outbound smuggling of rhino horn from the US) has resulted in 14 arrests and six convictions to date. Charges filed include conspiracy, smuggling, money laundering, tax evasion and bribery in addition to violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Recently a father and son team described by federal prosecutor as being “at the apex of the rhino horn smuggling pyramid” in the United States, has been sentenced to more than three years in prison on federal wildlife smuggling and money laundering charges. Their involvement in horn smuggling played a direct role in driving the price of rhino horn to nearly $25,000 per lb.

How are other countries faring? According to WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) data: Laos, Mozambique, Mynamar, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam, and Zambia are failing.

wildlife trade scorecard
It is imperative that each country step up laws and regulation on illegal trade. It is not just a Chinese or African problem. This is a worldwide epidemic and we’re in this together. While most countries see the wildlife trade as “an environmental problem”, WWFs President and CEO Carter Roberts warns “illicit wildlife trafficking compromises the security of countries. Much of the trade in illegal wildlife products is run by criminal groups with broad international reach, and the profits can be used to finance civil conflicts and terrorist-related activities. Illicit wildlife trafficking is also linked to other forms of illegal trafficking and money-laundering.”

There is something we can all do. We can be more conscientious and alert.  There are several steps the public can take to support the elimination of the illegal wildlife trade both abroad and domestically:

  • International travelers should avoid purchasing and/or carrying wild animal products, including meat, skins, and traditional medicines. Intentionally smuggled wildlife imports are often concealed in boxes or coolers; if you see a passenger carrying a suspicious container report it to Customs and Border Protection officials.
  • When traveling domestically, be aware of national and state laws regarding the transport of wild animals. Some laws differ among states.
  • We encourage you to make conscientious choices about your pet choices. Always make sure pets are captive-bred and choose pets that present minimal health and environmental risks (please visit PetWatch for more information), and can be adequately cared for in a captive situation. Please visit for more information.
illegal trade routes
Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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