Federal Police launch operation against ivory smuggling ring

Search and seizure warrants were served in São Paulo

Published in 15/09/2020 - 12:55 By Agência Brasil - Brasília

Brazil’s Federal Police in São Paulo today (Sep. 15) served 11 warrants of search and seizure, issued as part of Operation Ivory (“Operação Marfim” in the original Portuguese), which aims to investigate the illegal trade of elephant ivory. The crackdown is supported by the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) and the Environmental Police of São Paulo State.

According to the police, 11 home and business addresses were identified in the capital which were linked to individuals suspected of committing crimes by importing, buying, or selling works of art produced from elephant tusks.

In a note, the police added they found that ivory-made objects have been traded in the antiquity fair on Paulista Avenue and in the free area underneath the Assis Chateaubriand São Paulo Art Museum (Masp). The composition of the products was confirmed by Ibama’s directors’ board.

Those investigated will answer to smuggling and qualified willful possession. Sentences are two to five years in prison and three to eight years in seclusion, and a fine, respectively.

In their report, the police mention that Brazil has signed the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). The agreement mandates that each government linked to it should commit to implementing measures to prevent the trafficking in animals, in order to tackle threats on the survival of species. “The police action coincides today with the conduction of international operation Thunder, jointly organized by Interpol and the World Customs Organization,” the text reads.

As it stands today, the illegal hunting of elephants for the ivory is still a major concern. Even after the international commerce of ivory has been banned since 1990, the practice is still reported to happen. According to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the population of African elephants dropped from some 12 million to 400 thousand in just one century.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Valéria Aguiar / Nira Foster

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