Dismantling and disrupting criminal networks illegally trading in endangered wildlife

Conference of the Wildlife Justice Commission

21 February 2018, 10:00 - 16:00 hours


During this event attended by law enforcement professionals from around the world, the WJC will present on its operational approach and investigative and intelligence capabilities in fulfilling its mission to help disrupt and dismantle transnational organised wildlife criminal networks.


The world has lost 50% biodiversity in the last 40 years and the major factor is illegal extraction (poaching, illegal logging and fishing) and trafficking.
Many endangered species face imminent extinction, marine environments and fish stocks are collapsing and natural habitats are being lost forever due to illegal logging. In addition to accelerating the loss to biodiversity, wildlife crime de-stabilises societies, affects local communities (eg: killing of rangers, and poachers, which can leave families destitute), increases global health risks (spreading of disease through consumption and transport), and fuels corruption as well as other types of auxiliary crimes such money laundering and fraud.

The Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) is a not-for-profit organisation based in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mission is to disrupt and help governments dismantle transnational organised wildlife criminal networks. It seeks to work with law enforcement, build technical and operational expertise and increase law enforcement cooperation across the countries/regions of the supply chain. Its main objective is to assist in securing arrests that will lead to successful prosecutions and the disruption of transnational criminal networks dealing in wildlife. Where necessary, the WJC will also hold governments accountable for their failure to address wildlife crime.
The WJC conducts in-depth investigations and makes use of case management and intelligence analysis software employed by law enforcement agencies which allows it to provide evidence and criminal analyses to law enforcement agencies in a format they are familiar with.


Because of this valued and recognized support for investigative and law enforcement agencies Europol and WJC have signed in March 2017 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to share technical expertise, best practices and raise awareness of environmental crimes, including trafficking in endangered animal and plant species.


During this session, the WJC will demonstrate its operational approach in terms of investigative and intelligence capabilities and explore opportunities for collaboration.


Website of the WJC: https://wildlifejustice.org/


Simultaneous translation English-German

WJC Conference summary
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The GPEC-organizer Dr. Uwe Wehrstedt welcomed the participants and opened the conference.

With a highly diverse panel of speakers, the conference shed light on the transnational aspects of organised wildlife crime, lessons that can be learned from efforts to combat other transnational organised crime and the general failure of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to successfully ‘follow the money.’  

The conference illustrated how public-private partnerships can be a force multiplier for law enforcement agencies, offering access to skillsets and resources that are currently beyond the reach of many developing countries. The conference speakers touched on intelligence analysis, covert evidence collection, the role corruption plays, the importance of financial crime investigations and exploiting the digital footprint left by wildlife traffickers – important interconnecting elements that are too often discussed in isolation but were brought together during the conference. The WJC was honoured to share a common platform with its partners and collectively discuss solutions to wildlife crime.
A successful conference on tackling wildlife crime at the GPEC in Frankfurt
The WJC held a successful conference last week in Frankfurt on Dismantling and disrupting criminal networks illegally trading in endangered wildlife at the General Police Equipment Exhibition and Conference (GPEC).
The WJC was pleased to present a program with the participation of top-level speakers for a responsive and highly motivated audience. Mr Heinz-Dieter Meier, retired Director of the German Federal Police, facilitated the conference and contributed with his experience to framing the discussion.
The WJC was also delighted to welcome representatives from national law enforcement units working on wildlife protection who described the work they are carrying out in tackling wildlife trafficking. The Senior Assistant Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP/PERHILITAN) Peninsular Malaysia highlighted how PERHILITAN works with the WJC in conducting joint operations that have effectively led to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of wildlife trafficking criminals in Malaysia. The Head of Intelligence of the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) outlined the challenges they face in Kenya and elaborated on the newly forged partnership between the KWS and the WJC. The WJC will work closely with the KWS to increase its intelligence and investigative capacity.
The Head of the Unit at Europol described the general failure of law enforcement agencies to effectively ‘follow the money’, not only in wildlife crime cases but in organised crime cases generally. He outlined the logistical and legislative challenges that financial crime investigators face and how investment in this area is crucial to defeat organised crime. During the conference, it became apparent that the operational models of the WJC and those of Europol were compatible and, building off their existing MoU, the WJC will seek ways to intensify cooperation.
Dr Edgardo Buscaglia, Senior Scholar in Law and Economics at Columbia University, President of the Instituto de Acción Ciudadana para la Justicia y Democracia in Mexico and an expert on the Economic Analysis of Complex Crimes, as well as a member of the WJC Independent Review Panel, discussed parallels between international wildlife trade and other forms of transnational organised crime. He concluded that international treaties were useful tools in tackling corruption and organised crime and needed to be applied to the fight against wildlife crime. 
Dr Stefanie Frey, Managing Director at Deutor Cyber Security Solutions Switzerland GmbH, presented the Deutor crime mapping analysis showing that data is produced at each intersection of the supply chain and digital traces left using illegal, unregulated and uncontrolled (IUU) fishing as an example. She drew attention to the collaboration between Deutor and the WJC in IUU fishing and concluded by stating that in order to disrupt and take down criminal networks, close cooperation with law enforcement is the key to success.
The WJC’s senior and executive staff presented its intelligence-led investigation model based on law enforcement methodology. It also showed how evidence is shared with the law enforcement agencies in national countries enabling them to act upon it.
All of the experts agreed that wildlife crime is organised and transnational in nature. It provides  criminals with huge profits for very low risk and is devastating the world’s wildlife. It is crucial that governments acknowledge that wildlife crime must be tackled in a similar manner as other organised crimes.
The experts also acknowledged that the response to wildlife crime requires strengthening cooperation between law-enforcement agencies, both national and international; the allocation of resources to adequately train and equip law enforcement agencies; tackling corruption, which is a major driver of transnational crime; and embracing financial investigations as a key strategy to defeat organised crime.
The WJC was very proud to have its partners present during the conference, outlining different approaches and ways of complementing efforts. The WJC will benefit from the momentum of the conference and reach out to new partners to forge relationships that can leverage its work against wildlife crime, as the organisation sees its partnerships with law enforcement and governments as critical in addressing wildlife crime.
As the Chief of Investigation of the WJC summarised it:
“Law enforcement on its own will not stop wildlife crime, but without effective law enforcement, wildlife crime will never be stopped”.
The WJC is extremely grateful to the organisers of the GPEC for their invitation; to the speakers, for their time and their invaluable contributions and to the audience, for joining us in this conference.
The WJC will be back at the GPEC in April 2020 and looks forward to seeing you all again on that occasion if not before!


Moderator: Heinz-Dieter Meier
Direktor i.d. BPOL (ret.), Consultant in ICT, Cybersecurity, Aviation, Public Security and Geospatial Intelligence, and for DEUTOR GmbH


Welcome Speech
Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director of the Wildlife Justice Commission
Introductory remarks


What is the Wildlife Justice Commission and how does it contribute to addressing wildlife crime?
The Chief of Investigations of the WJC (whose name cannot be listed due to security concerns) will present the serious and organised nature of international wildlife trade and the necessity for an intelligence-led and well-coordinated response. He will demonstrate current threat levels and show how the WJC fulfils a much-needed role.


Achieving convictions in Malaysia
Joil Bin Bombon, the Senior Assistant Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP/PERHILITAN) Peninsular Malaysia
, together with a Senior Investigator at the WJC (whose name cannot be listed due to security concerns), will demonstrate how undercover work coupled with an effective relationship with the wildlife department (DWNP/PERHILITAN) resulted in custodial sentences for prolific offenders. During the session, the on-the-ground operational support model will be presented and ways in which it can enhance future law enforcement efforts will be explained.


Investigating transnational organised wildlife crime from a risk-based approach
Sarah Stoner, the Senior Investigations Manager of the WJC will explain how, unlike many conservation agencies that tackle the problem from a supply chain model, the WJC has developed and applied a risk-based model. During this session, the WJC will present case studies illustrating the advantages of such an approach.


Lunch and visit of the exhibition



The challenges of transnational financial crime investigations 
Pedro Felicio, Europol, will discuss the advantages and the challenges presented by transnational, financial crime investigations such as the growing use of virtual currencies.


The need to recognise the serious and organised nature of wildlife crime
Dr. Edgardo Buscaglia, Senior Scholar in Law and Economics at Columbia University, will discuss parallels between international wildlife trade and other forms of transnational, organised crime. Edgardo served as an adviser to several countries on issues involving public policy, and economic, transnational crimes and he currently serves as a member of the WJC’s Independent Review Panel.


Break and short video of WJC´s work



Applying Social Network Analysis to Understand Structures of Organised Criminal Networks 
Sarah Stoner, the Senior Investigations Manager at the WJC will explain how the WJC focuses intelligence efforts on the composition of organised crime networks and use various techniques to accomplish this, including big data mining by using proven social network analysis tests to identify key connectors between disparate criminal networks involved in the trafficking of reptiles.



The KENYAN WILDLIFE SERVICE’s approach to management of intelligence
The Kenyan Wildlife Services (KWS) will discuss the recent transformation in the coordination of their intelligence work and the potential impact this may have on the trafficking of ivory globally. Since 2009, more ivory has been smuggled from Mombasa than any other port in the world.



Undercover Operatives Management

The Chief of Investigations of the WJC (whose name cannot be listed due to security concerns) will present how the deployment of undercover operatives has aided intelligence development and outline how the WJC can add a valuable dimension for other potential cases. The WJC have deployed its undercover operatives across many countries and enforcement agencies have utilised its assets to further their investigations.


How digital traces can help disrupt and take down criminal networks
Dr. Stefanie Frey, Managing Director at Deutor Cyber Security Solutions Switzerland GmbH
will present the Deutor methodology and explain how digital traces can help law enforcement to disrupt and take down criminal networks. Criminal networks leave digital traces in every step of the business process and their supply chain. Deutor analyses, in cooperation with all stakeholders, the entire modus operandi of criminal networks and based on the findings creates a technical blueprint of the digital traces. The blueprint contains usable and solid information that can be used by law enforcement and investigators to disrupt and take down criminal networks.


Concluding Remarks
Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director of the WJC

Agenda and speakers' biographies

Please download the PDF-file here.