Traffickers Arrested in Gabon's Largest Ivory Seizure
News just in from Conservation Justice, a law enforcement project in Gabon, describes a high profile ivory-related seizure and arrests. From Project Director Luc Mathot:
Following a long term Conservation Justice undercover international investigation, two ivory traffickers were arrested in the port of Libreville with 18 ivory tusks weighing a total of 178 kg as they boarded a ship bound for Nigeria/Benin. This represents Gabon’s largest ivory seizure.
The operation was carried out at the seaport by the Judicial Police and the AALF project (Appui Application de la Loi sur la Faune), a partnership between the Ministry of Water and Forestry and Conservation Justice.
The poaching and smuggling network uncovered through this operation is well developed, raw ivory being sourced from all parts of Gabon, then illegally smuggled to Nigeria / Benin where it is carved before being shipped to Asia. The ship that was involved- the Emiliano Carneiro- is thought to have been supporting the smuggling of ivory in this way for a decade. The two arrested traffickers were actually senior staff on the ship, one is the Togolose luggage manager, while the other was Gabonese and the head of the local branch of the shipping company. When searched, a quantity of shark fins was also found on board.
Unfortunately, the law in Gabon provides for only 2-6 months imprisonment and fines of between £130 and £13,000 and Conservation Justice are lobbying for the law to be revised in line with the serious nature of such crimes.