Four people arrested for trading in wild animals on social networks

Endangered species such as servals, marmosets and parrots were sold at low prices in an extensive organized traffic on social networks. Four people were arrested, including a 22-year-old woman who is suspected of being the leader of the network.

Four people were arrested and taken into police custody on November 30 as part of the crackdown on a huge international traffic in endangered species.

“Servals, parrots, monkeys, meerkats or even squirrels bought at low prices abroad were then resold via social networks throughout the capital of France”, details a press release from the French Office of Biodiversity (OFB). ), who participated in the study together with the Bordeaux branch of the Central Office for the fight against damage to the environment and public health (OCLAESP).

Among the four arrested, a 22-year-old woman from Haute-Garonne and suspected of being at the head of the network was indicted on Monday in particular for “retention, transport, sale, sale, unauthorized” animal of a non-domestic species”, “unauthorized involvement in an organized gang with the conservation of a protected animal species’ and ‘participation in a criminal association with a view to the preparation of an offense punishable by at least 5 years’ imprisonment’.

She was remanded in custody. The other three suspects, aged 22, 29 and 41, were summoned “with a view to subsequent prosecution”.

Traffic between France, Spain, Poland and Belgium

This extensive investigation started in May 2021, when the French Biodiversity Office and OCLAESP were informed of the existence of trade in protected species in the Gironde.

“At the end of the first investigations (…) trade in and illegal trade in live animals protected by the Washington Convention was established, mainly from Spain, Poland and Belgium. These species, bought at low prices, were then resold via social networks without any health guarantee and without traceability and otherwise to persons who had no authorization necessary for their possession”, develops OFB.

In light of the scale of the traffic, a judicial investigation was launched in November 2021, and the Legal Investigation and Finance Department joined the investigation to identify the various protagonists of the illegal network. After months of investigation, they were able to organize the dragnet which allowed them to lead to the four arrests. During the searches, many animals were also seized and placed in approved professional structures.

“One of the most lucrative criminal activities”

“Trafficking of protected species is a growing phenomenon in France, which today constitutes one of the most lucrative transnational criminal activities in the world, estimated at 23 billion dollars per year”, underlines the OFB.

And to remember: “In addition to the damage to endangered species, the health risks are high, with the possible importation of zoonoses via this traffic, for example by primates, the main vectors of Ebola.”

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