Interpol managed a huge blow against ivory trafficking in Africa, as it seized 4.5 tonnes of ivory after a successful major operation which lasted for months.
The Interpol operation, named Worthy II, has resulted in 376 arrests, the seizure of 4.5 tonnes of elephant ivory and rhino horn and the investigation of 25 criminal groups involved in the illicit trade.
Worthy II took place from January to October and involved law enforcement across 11 African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
In addition to the ivory and rhino horn, thousands of other wildlife products were also seized, including 2,029 pangolin scales, 173 live tortoises, 55 kg of sea cucumber, warthog teeth, big cat, pangolin and python skins and impala carcasses, as well as 532 rounds of ammunition, five firearms and two home-made rifles.
Francis Rwego, Head of the Interpol Regional Bureau for East Africa in Nairobi, said: “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.
“This operation could not have achieved such success without the on-the-ground actions by national law enforcement supported by Interpol’s global network,” concluded Rwego.
During the operation, Investigative Support Teams were deployed to Kenya and Tanzania and also to Asian countries including Singapore and Thailand where several tonnes of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn were seized.