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Bear, whale and zebra meat seized in Interpol and WCO operation

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Interpol. Seizures included a crate of bear carcass and bear meat in Canada
Picture: Interpol. Seizures included a crate of bear carcass and bear meat in Canada

Related tags Meat Trade

More than 40 tonnes of wild meat has been seized as part of an operation against the illegal trade in wildlife.

Codenamed Thunderstorm, it involved police, customs, border, environment, wildlife and forestry agencies from 92 countries and resulted in millions of euros-worth of seizures.

Interpol said the 43 tonnes of confiscated wild meat included bear, elephant, crocodile, whale and zebra.

Canadian authorities intercepted a container with 18 tonnes of eel meat from Asia believed to have originally been poached from Europe.

The juvenile glass eels were reared in Asia before being sent to North American markets for consumption.

The operation saw eight tonnes of pangolin scales seized, including almost four tonnes by Vietnamese maritime authorities on a ship from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Operation Thunderstorm was coordinated by Interpol and the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Interpol secretary general Jürgen Stock said: “By revealing how wildlife trafficking groups use the same routes as criminals involved in other crime areas - often hand in hand with tax evasion, corruption, money laundering and violent crime - Operation Thunderstorm sends a clear message to wildlife criminals that the world’s law enforcement community is homing in on them.”

Land and airport border points and wildlife parks were targeted with specialist sniffer dogs and x-ray scanners.

“By leveraging the global network of worldwide environmental law enforcement experts and customs community’s commitment to protecting wildlife, WCO and its partners have clearly illustrated the power and effectiveness of international cooperation in keeping our natural heritage safe, both now and for future generations​,” said WCO secretary general Kunio Mikuriya.

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