U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Pretoria, South Africa joined Angolan Customs Enforcement July 14-20 during Operation Save Rhinos, Elephants, and Pangolins (SaveREP), an anti-wildlife trafficking operation that took place during the month of July at the Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport in Luanda, Angola.
The aim of Operation SaveREP is to target, intercept, and seize rhino horns, elephant ivory, and pangolin scales and other Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) goods and to apprehend and arrest offenders in a concerted national, regional, and international effort.
Rhino horns, elephant ivory, and pangolin scales are being illegally exported from the West African and Sub Saharan region to South East Asian nations via airfreight, air passengers, express consignments, and international mail.
HSI Pretoria was able to share best practices and foster law enforcement collaboration for future capacity building efforts. Since the start of the Operation, Angolan Customs was able to make four respective seizures of ivory products.
Operation SaveREP was initiated by the World Customs Organization (WCO) INAMA (an anti-wildlife trafficking effort - INAMA means ‘wild animals’ in the language of the Zambian Bemba tribe) with the Customs services of Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, and observer countries to include Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking consist of well-organized networks of poachers, criminal syndicates, and corrupt officials that exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from the trade. Former President Obama’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking provides a plan that implements a strategy where the U.S. Government reaffirms a commitment to partner with foreign governments. This partnership further provides a platform where U.S. and foreign law enforcement can exchange information and leads to enhance transnational investigations.
For more information on ICE’s investigative role in combating wildlife trafficking, please visit https://www.ice.gov/iprcenter or contact the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at (703) 603-3916.