The Civil Guard intervenes 627 alive specimens of reptiles coming from the illicit traffic

In the framework of the operation "Blizzard" to combat the illegal trade in reptiles 22 countries around the world have participated

In our country we have proceeded to the investigation of 6 people for illicit trafficking of reptiles, being among the recovered some of high ecological value such as the black turtle, the giant tortoise of Aldabra or the tortoise of African spurs

Europol has coordinated the investigation, providing technical support, information exchange, seizures and inspections in the EU

The Civil Guard, in the framework of the operation "Blizzard" coordinated by INTERPOL and EUROPOL to combat the illegal trade in reptiles and involving 22 countries around the world, has proceeded to arrest or investigate 6 people for trafficking of species and for crimes related to non-compliance with the CITES Convention.

At European level, approximately 1,500 live snakes, lizards and geckos were seized, also resulting in a total of 12 arrests, six in Italy and six in Spain.
Worldwide, the Blizzard operation resulted in the seizure of 4,419 live animals, including 2,703 turtles, 1,059 snakes, 512 lizards and geckos and 20 crocodiles and alligators. The competent authorities confiscated 152 handbags, wallets, purses, medicines and taxidermy derived from reptiles.
In our country a total of 217 inspections have been carried out in establishments selling animals, wholesalers, private collectors and transporters.
Likewise, 25 complaints have been made for different contraband infractions, to the regulations on consumption, trade and sale of animals, to animal health and to the environment.
Among the apprehensions made include 627 living reptiles of many species, some of them of great ecological value, among which are the black tortoise (Testudo graeca), the giant tortoise of Aldabra (Aldabrachelys gigantean) or the tortoise of spurs African (Centrochelys sulfata).

Outstanding performances in Spain

From the development of the Operation, it is worth mentioning the seizures carried out in a clandestine turtle hatchery, in which numerous specimens in an irregular situation of different species were located. It should be noted that already in 2018, a hatchery with similar characteristics was intervened in the Balearic Islands, which demonstrates the high interest that turtles, especially certain species, generate among collectors.
In addition, numerous seizures have been made in Almeria and Murcia due to the irregular sale of the black turtle (Testudo graeca), a species that enjoys the maximum protection at national and European level and due to the ease of its capture, together with that in Spain are some of the best populations of this species in Europe, is the object of desire by many collectors.
On the other hand, there have been several seizures in legally registered reptile hatcheries. However, on many occasions behind this legal activity is a trade outside the current regulations, which takes advantage of the facilities and knowledge used in common species to develop illicit activities on rarer species and therefore more valuable in the black market .
Finally, other irregularities have been detected related to the absence of permits to maintain zoological centers, because they do not correctly manage the waste generated by the activity, or because they do not maintain the adequate hygienic-sanitary conditions of the animals, which shows that in many cases the illicit market uses animals as mere objects of economic transaction, for which there is no concern about their state of health.

Crimes against the environment: a priority for the EU

In 2017, Europol opened the EnviCrime Analysis Project (AP), after establishing the new EMPACT priority on environmental crimes. This dedicated team has been working to combat crime against wildlife and waste trafficking. Operation Lake is just one example of the many successful actions carried out.
In March 2018, AP EnviCrime launched the Naultinus project, as a direct result of Operation Jungle V, focused on wildlife trafficking in the EU and, more specifically, on the illegal trade in reptiles and birds in the EU. .

Gathering intelligence to catch criminals

Europol has supported the participating countries in the exchange of information and intelligence before the operation. This information has been used to create the profiles of the delinquents and their associates, as well as to monitor their activity.
During the development of the Operation, Europol and INTERPOL have worked together to improve international efforts in the fight against the illegal trade in reptiles. Participating countries include Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland , Ukraine and the United States.

4th most lucrative illegal business worldwide

Interpol's estimates point to the crime against the environment as one of the fastest growing sectors internationally, mainly motivated by the broad economic benefit obtained by specialized criminal networks operating in this field.
According to reports from the United Nations and INTERPOL, environmental crimes are the fourth most lucrative illegal business worldwide after drug trafficking, counterfeit products and human trafficking. Their earnings are estimated between 91,000 and 258,000 million dollars per year, at a growth rate of 5 to 7%, also annually.
It should be noted that Spain, due to its geographical location and commercial and cultural links, is the transit or destination of numerous illegal traffics of flora and fauna species from Africa and Central and South America to the internal market, the rest of Europe and the rest of Europe. Asian continent.
However, this problem not only affects other countries, but the Spanish natural heritage is also irreparably affected by the plundering of individuals and eggs of raptors for export, the capture of thousands of turtles, chameleons and birds or the fishing of tons of eel fingerlings of national origin, which are exported illegally to China.
SEPRONA troops supported by units of the Fiscal Service and Citizen Security of the Civil Guard participated in the operation.


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