Interpol arrests 376 in operation against Africa’s wildlife crime

An operation targeting illicit trade of elephant ivory and rhino horns helped to arrest 376 people and confiscate 4.5 tonnes of these wildlife products across African countries, the international police agency Interpol announced on Tuesday.

The Worthy II operation involved 11 African countries, namely, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It contributed to the seizure of 2,029 pangolin scales, 173 live tortoises, as well as 532 rounds of ammunition, five firearms and two home-made rifles, among other things, the Lyon-based agency said in a press release.

“Operation Worthy II was a very successful initiative for the countries involved, in particular the pre-operation meetings and workshops which provided officers with the necessary skills to carry out the operational phase effectively,” said Francis Rwego, head of the Interpol Regional Bureau for East Africa in Nairobi.

Starting in January 2015, the 10-month long operation aimed to enhance coordinated law enforcement responses to wildlife crime through cross-border, multi-agency collaboration, systematic intelligence exchange and analysis, according to the statement.