Sunday, February 28, 2021

Latin America gangs use bribery, secret routes to smuggle jaguar parts to China – Report

-

Criminal organizations in Bolivia and other Latin American countries are bribing police and circumventing customs restrictions to smuggle parts of jaguars to mainland China, an investigation by environmental groups showed on Thursday.

Seventy-five intelligence sources across Latin America, including traffickers, confirmed in a report commissioned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in the Netherlands (IUCN NL) that criminals operate established routes and sometimes bribe high-ranking police officers to look the other way.

Jaguars, Latin America’s biggest cat, are classified on the IUCN’s red list as near-threatened. The felines are targeted by traffickers looking to sell their bones, genitals and teeth to clients in Asia, most of whom are Chinese.

“The jaguar is a very important species to protect,” Angela Nunez, an independent consultant in Bolivia and one of the authors of the report told Reuters. “It’s key within the ecosystems it lives in, it’s a species that regulates the other species that live alongside it.”

Criminal groups in Bolivia take advantage of inadequate law enforcement, corruption and porous land borders and airports, the report found.

Investigations for the report were conducted by Earth League International (ELI), a group which uses intelligence-gathering techniques like those employed by government spy agencies to track wildlife crime.

Top traders of jaguar parts in Bolivia supply to sellers in China or have links with China-based wholesalers or stockists, according to ELI’s findings.

The investigation identified at least three criminal groups operating in Bolivia involved in trafficking jaguar parts, including the so-called Putian Gang – the South American branch of Chinese organized crime group the Fujian Mafia.

- Advertisement -

Jaguar parts in China are passed off as tiger products and sold for their reputed medicinal properties. Fangs, also sold as tiger teeth, go for up to 10 times their value in South America, the report said.

Many jaguar parts are trafficked by plane, but international shipping and postal services have also been used.

The current whereabouts of hundreds of fangs seized in Bolivia between 2014 and 2019 are unknown, investigators said. Bolivian authorities did not respond to Reuters questions about the fangs’ whereabouts.

No jaguar parts have been seized since January 2019, with new trafficking routes and methodologies likely playing a role, the report added.

“We don’t even know the true extent (of trafficking),” said Valeria Boron, South America science and research coordinator for Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization. Panthera was not involved in the report.

“The numbers in Bolivia point to hundreds of jaguar fangs being confiscated in the last few years and that’s really only the tip of the iceberg,” she added.

Advertisement

Must Read

Four jurisdictions, including the Cayman Islands and Morocco, will undergo increased monitoring as they face pressure from a global watchdog to address deficiencies in...
A London court ruled on Thursday that billionaire Indian diamond magnate Nirav Modi could be extradited to his home country to face charges of...
Cisco Systems Inc. is investigating an alleged embezzlement scheme by former employees in China that may have involved payments to Chinese state-owned firms, the...
Cryptocurrency ATMs have seen a surge in interest amid this year's Bitcoin frenzy, fuelling concerns the machines could be exploited by "money mules" looking...
A former mayor of a small Florida city has been arrested on child pornography possession and distribution charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle...
Advertisement

Latest News

South Carolina’s men’s basketball program was placed on probation for two years by the NCAA on Thursday for former assistant coach Lamont Evans accepting...
FIFA's ethics judges closed a bribery investigation against German great Franz Beckenbauer because a statute of limitations expired, soccer's world governing body said Thursday. Beckenbauer...
Global money-laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Thursday said it would keep Pakistan on its terrorism financing “grey list”. FATF had placed...
Conservative lawmaker Georg Nüsslein faces accusations he received €660,000 to lobby for a mask supplier. The Bundestag voted unanimously to lift his immunity. Investigators raided...
A former state attorney in north Florida is facing multiple federal charges related to allegations of bribery, extortion and fraud, officials announced Friday. Jeffrey Siegmeister,...
Advertisement
Advertisement
Enable Notifications    OK No thanks