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  1. #1
    BPnet Veteran Ax01's Avatar
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    Busted By Operation Blizzard!

    before i even owned my own reptiles, i used to read about and see reptile smugglers in the news every now and then. the guy smuggling reptiles in his pants became the butt of many late night tv talk shows and wacky wierd news headlines. i used to laugh at it as well and wonder why peeps would do such a thing. like what excuses do u have when u get caught? doesn't it tickle u to have a snake in your pants? isn't it dangerous to the animal(s)? is the trouble and money worth it? well i guess so b/c an international coordinated investigation code named Operation Blizzard arrested a buncha perps and seized over 4,000 live reptiles across multiple countries and continents.

    reading the article, i was surprised to see a species as basic as a KSB being smuggled and mentioned. 6 total! i could see how a wealthy collector would want something like a Spider-Tailed Viper from Iran, but a KSB? i do not know the full CITES list but i guess in some markets/countries/states/provinces/etc., they must be restricted to have to be smuggled in and available on the black market. one article i read framed the story not as a collecting and breeding thing, but as a fashion issue and demand. like reptile skins being used for fashion. i would like to see more data and breakdown of the 4,000 animals seized and where, etc. i think the overall data would be very interesting. the illegal reptile trade is seems to be lucrative and there are various forces driving it.

    anyways on to the article:
    4,000 live reptiles rescued in biggest global raid of its kind
    Police nabbed suspected traffickers in airports, breeding centers, and pet stores across 22 countries.

    GLOBAL POLICE FORCES have carried off the largest reptile trade bust to date, arresting 12 suspects and seizing more than 4,000 live reptiles at airports, breeding facilities, and pet stores across Europe, North America, and elsewhere throughout April and May.

    The initiative, dubbed Operation Blizzard—a play on words referring to the deluge of activity around lizards—was coordinated by Interpol and Europol in response to the illegal trade in snakes, turtles, and other protected reptiles. Trafficking of these animals is threatening some species with extinction and also fueling disease outbreaks among humans.

    The exotic reptile trade has exploded in the past two decades, with millions of the animals now imported—legally and illegally—into the European Union and United States as household pets. Some reptiles are also coveted for their skins, made into high-end fashion items such as shoes, belts, and handbags.

    Few protections exist for reptiles: Only about 8 percent of the roughly 10,000 species are included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the international treaty that regulates the commercial trade of wildlife across national borders.

    As part of Operation Blizzard, law enforcement agencies in 22 countries—including New Zealand, Italy, Spain, South Africa, and the U.S.—scoured intelligence reports, cross-referenced earlier cases, monitored social media, and conducted targeted inspections of breeding facilities, says Sergio Tirro, a project manager for environmental crime at Europol who helped collect intelligence for the operation. Sharing intel across borders allowed them to identify more than 180 suspects.

    “This operation clearly demonstrates the value of international cooperation” says Chris Shepherd, executive director of Monitor, a nonprofit organization in British Columbia, Canada, dedicated to combating illegal wildlife trade. “It also illustrates the scale of this massive and well-organized trade.”

    Six arrests have already been made in Italy and another six in Spain, with further arrests and prosecutions expected, according to a statement from Interpol. In one case, according to Europol, an airline passenger had 75 live turtles in his luggage without any of the required paperwork.

    “Generally, our main target is a not a single passenger or individual—our focus is organized crime groups behind the illegal trade,” Tirro says. Still, many of the individuals identified were small-scale participants rather than organized crime leaders, he notes, adding that law enforcement hopes this work will help them build cases against top-tier people who are coordinating the illegal trade.

    The seizures included more than 20 crocodiles and alligators, six Kenyan sand boa snakes found in air cargo in the U.S., and 150 items made from reptile skins—including handbags, watchstraps, traditional medicines, and taxidermied products. Although the main focus of the operation was on reptiles, law enforcement also nabbed other animals and wildlife products: live owls, falcons, swans, elephant ivory, bushmeat.

    Nine reptiles being smuggled from Washington State into British Columbia were seized in Canada, says Sheldon Jordan, who heads up the wildlife crime unit of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Three of those animals had died in transit, underscoring how deadly the illegal wildlife trade can be, he says. Operation Blizzard was conducted at this time of year because most reptile trading in the northern hemisphere takes place during the spring and summer months, when these cold-blooded animals are more likely to stay warm enough to survive, Jordan says.

    Seizing 4,000 reptiles is significant, Shepherd notes, but “there are millions of reptiles being illegally traded every year,” and the market for these creatures keeps growing. Dismantling the well-organized networks that orchestrate the reptile trade and working with the countries where these animals are stolen from the wild, he says, are essential.
    more here:
    Operation Blizzard reveals information about illegal reptile trade

    Python skin handbags, crocodile watchstraps, and traditional medicines containing turtles have been seized in New Zealand as part of an international operation against the illegal trade in reptiles.

    Globally the operation, code named Operation Blizzard, has seen thousands of seizures and almost 200 suspects in illegal trade identified through coordinated sharing of information between participating countries.

    Targeting the criminals and networks behind the illegal global trade in reptiles, Operation Blizzard (12 April to 22 May) involved agencies from 22 countries and resulted in seizures ranging from live animals to high-end fashion products.

    Within New Zealand, Department of Conservation staff inspected legally permitted reptile holders and traders, audited shipments of reptile leather products crossing the border, and assisted Customs and Ministry of Primary Industries staff in identifying and seizing reptile products at airports and the International Mail Centre.

    The intelligence generated and shared with other countries has resulting in the launch of investigations into the illegal holding, selling, and import and export of reptiles – including endangered native New Zealand geckos.

    “Our geckos can be quite popular pets oversea, because they are such a unique and rare species,” says DOC Principal Compliance Officer Dylan Swain.

    “True animal lovers would never take part in this black market. As well as damaging wild populations, the conditions in which these lizards are transported for illegal trade can be appalling. Very few of them survive in the process.

    “Sharing information with key agencies overseas and getting information from local holders of exotic and native reptiles has been instrumental in opening a number of new investigations into the illegal trade in reptiles and reptile products.

    “Operation Blizzard is just the start of a renewed international focus on the illegal reptile trade,” Dylan Swain adds.

    Operation Blizzard was jointly coordinated by INTERPOL and Europol to enhance international efforts in tackling the illegal trade in reptiles. Member countries of the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group developed the operation based on the growing need to share and collaborate on organized crime groups trading in live reptiles and reptile products.

    Internationally, the operation has so far led to over 4,500 of seizures and the identification of important suspects, triggering arrests and investigations worldwide. Further arrests and prosecutions are anticipated as investigations continue.

    “The illegal trade in reptiles has close associations with organised crime – Operation Blizzard sends a clear message to criminals that the law enforcement community is homing in on them,” added Daoming Zhang, INTERPOL’s Assistant Director in charge of Environmental Security.

    “Operation Blizzard clearly demonstrates that by pooling our enforcement and intelligence resources, the global enforcement community firmly contributes to disrupting this destructive trade in reptiles. This operation is testimony to what can be achieved if we all work together.”

    The results of the operation will continue to be analysed globally to generate further intelligence for use in future national, regional and international law enforcement efforts. DOC staff are currently following leads, interviewing suspects, and sharing intelligence with foreign authorities which may result in the prosecution of individuals and companies in New Zealand.
    ^ Look! My new avatar!!

    Wicked ones now on IG & FB!6292

    Seaside Serpents & Exotics (SSEx) clutch one, two and three.

  2. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Ax01 For This Useful Post:

    Bogertophis (06-12-2019),Craiga 01453 (06-12-2019),Godzilla78 (06-12-2019),Sonny1318 (06-13-2019),sur3fir3 (06-12-2019)

  3. #2
    Registered User Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Whether by individuals or groups, I really hate that people do this stuff: many are endangered animals taken this way that don't even survive because of the stupid
    ways they are transported -yes, like under people's clothing ...& for what? Wild-caught imports sent legally have a hard enough time surviving the stress &
    conditions of shipping, but imagine when they're stuffed into carry-ons & clothing.
    Many friends in low places...

    Lots more room at the bottom of the bell curve, & "normal" is over-rated anyway.

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