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June 24, 2021Washington, DC, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

IPR Center to combat wildlife and natural capital trafficking with Grace Farms Foundation, Liberty Shared

WASHINGTON – The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) today announced dual partnerships with Grace Farms Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused ending modern slavery and violence, and Liberty Shared, a global counter-trafficking nongovernmental organization, to advance their collective shared missions of eliminating wildlife and other natural capital trafficking crimes around the world.

To commemorate the partnership, Steve Francis, IPR Center director, Duncan Jepson, Liberty Shared executive director, and Rod Khattabi, Director of Global Justice Initiative Trainings & Risk Officer at Grace Farms, signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) during the IPR Center’s 2021 Wildlife Crime virtual roundtable in Crystal City, Va.

“Together, we recognize the critical role U.S. laws can play in prohibiting illegal trade in wildlife and other natural capital, as well as bringing traffickers and facilitators to justice,” said Francis. “However, these partnerships are the next step in our effort to ensure businesses and individuals profiting from trafficking are held accountable and liable for their criminal activities, and the world’s supply of natural assets are protected.”

To accomplish this, Grace Farms Foundation, through its Justice Initiative, will partner with the Homeland Security Investigations-led (HSI) IPR Center in providing global trainings and capacity building opportunities with the goal of fostering relationships within the anti-wildlife crime community. By connecting resources and sharing information, Grace Farms Foundation and HSI will improve criminal investigations into wildlife crime and strengthen communication networks that can lead to the successful prosecution of perpetrators.

“Building strategic public-private partnerships is the most promising model for disrupting illicit wildlife trade,” said Khattabi. “In partnering with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and HSI, we can achieve great results in combating global wildlife crimes and their impact that stems from these crimes.”

Liberty Shared will partner with HSI to prevent wildlife trafficking through legal advocacy, technological interventions, and strategic collaborations with nongovernmental organizations, corporations, and financial institutions with a nexus to Southeast Asia and beyond.

"We are very pleased to sign this MOU with the IPR Center relating to the investigation of wildlife trafficking,” said Jepson. “Society needs there to be increased numbers of investigations, prosecutions and convictions to combat wildlife trafficking to protect wildlife and their ecosystems. Of particular importance, HSI has powers in relation to banking secrecy, often called "follow-the-money", which other agencies do not have and applying these are fundamental to combating wildlife trafficking effectively."

Additionally, as a part of today’s agreement, Grace Farms Foundation will leverage its global relationships and resources to facilitate engagements between HSI and other organizations in the anti-wildlife crimes community to identify potential points of intervention in wildlife trafficking supply chains. This partnership also leverages the Foundation’s supply chain expertise and its ability to train and build transborder law enforcement capacity to combat environmental crimes.

Liberty Shared will work with HSI to facilitate the sharing of information related to the poaching, movement, trade of wildlife and natural capital, the production and manufacturing of goods derived from animal and natural capital parts and incidental activities such as the movement of money. In addition, Liberty Shared will help improve victim identification and will share anti-trafficking best practices.

“Illegal trafficking in wildlife and natural resources not only exploits those global natural resources, but also the communities that rely on those resources. This criminal activity has long-standing and far-reaching detrimental effects which, sadly, cannot be easily or quickly rectified. That makes it all the more important that we stop this activity before it ever happens,” said Francis. “This type of exploitation spans multiple industries and sectors and must be dismantled using a multifaceted approach. With this expanded partnership, HSI’s broad legal authorities, coupled with Grace Farms’ and Liberty Shared’s vast capabilities, will help advance our mission to end this type of exploitation and trafficking, both locally and abroad.”