Wildlife Crime: U.S. Policy Recommendations for Improved Domestic Enforcement

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Wildlife trafficking is the fifth most profitable illicit trade in the world. While it’s impossible to ascertain the true extent and value of the illegal trade, UNEP estimates range from US $7.6 to $23 billion globally per year. Wildlife trafficking occurs within and across U.S. borders. Not only is the United States among the world’s major markets for wildlife and wildlife products -- both legal and illegal – but it also serves as a transit point for trafficked wildlife moving from “source” (or “range”) countries to destination markets around the globe, as well as a source for illegally taken wildlife. The U.S. Government recognizes wildlife trafficking is a serious crime and it appears to be committed to ensuring domestic enforcement efforts adequately protect wildlife resources. Effective enforcement depends on robust legal authorities to disrupt wildlife trafficking networks, apprehend and prosecute traffickers, seize and forfeit proceeds of crimes and apply penalties that deter and prevent others from committing such crimes. As wildlife crimes are often similar to drug trafficking and other smuggling schemes, investigators employ techniques similar to those used in narcotics enforcement such as controlled deliveries of contraband wildlife and anticipatory warrants.





Cantey V, S. Benton (2017). Wildlife Crime: U.S. Policy Recommendations for Improved Domestic Enforcement. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14137.

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