This is an extract from the Intelligence Briefing on Illegal Wildlife Trafficking by Financial Crime News. To obtain a copy of the Briefing contact FCN directly.
Wildlife Trafficking endangers many species, with particular concern over iconic African mammals, such as the Elephant and the Rhino, but also the Pangolin, which is the most trafficked mammal of all, Gorillas, Big Cats, Reptiles, Birds (like the African Grey Parrot) and wildlife from outside Africa.
Wildlife Trafficking generates significant proceeds from Elephant, Rhino and Pangolin markets.
The Elephant Ivory market is valued at approximately US$240 million to $720, with the Rhino market valued at between US$91 million and $698 million and for Pangolin’s the market is estimated at US$46 million annually.
Wildlife Trafficking in Elephant Ivory, Rhino Horn and Pangolin Meat and Scales is undertaken alongside other crimes, not just those to facilitate the illicit trade like corruption and forgery of documents, and the killing of rangers, and by organised criminal gangs also involved in drugs, arms, goods and human trafficking as well as in some cases links have been drawn to terrorist groups operating in Africa..
On 13 June 2019, the US Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York indicted four individuals, Moazu KROMAH, Amara CHERIF, Mansur Mohamed SURUR, and Abdi Hussein AHMED charged with participating in a conspiracy to traffic more than US$7 million in rhino horns and elephant ivory. In addition, KROMAH, CHERIF, and SURUR were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, and SURUR and AHMED were charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 10 kilograms of heroin. One of those charged is now in the US, another awaiting extradition in Senegal and two remaining Kenyans still at large, on the run.
This is not just important in terms of the action taken but how co operation across agencies and between public and private sectors and effective information sharing made a difference.
The illegal wildlife trade is a transnational, commodity-based and highly profitable form of organised crime, until recently carrying little risk of detection and prosecution, particularly for the kingpins at the heart of the trade. However the sentencing of the “Ivory Queen” to a lengthy prison sentence and recent record seizures indicate a growing appetite by authorities to act. Katie Perrott is Group Head, FCC Strategic Intelligence at SCB.
Successful conviction and sentencing of the Ivory Queen
Fuelled by Asian demand for ivory, poaching has devastated Tanzania’s once large elephant population; with numbers falling from 110,000 in 2009 to just 43,000 by 2014. Alleged by prosecutors to be a key figure in the illegal trade of Tanzanian ivory, Yang Feng Glan, a 69 year old Chinese woman, and two Tanzanian accomplices (Salivius Francis Matembo and Manase Julius Philemon) were sentenced in February 2019 to 15 years in prison, after being convicted of smuggling 860 elephant tusks worth over USD 5.5