PETALING JAYA: A suspect, who is the subject of Malaysia’s first Interpol’s Red Notice for wildlife crime, was the “money man” behind a consignment of over 1,000 Indian star tortoises worth RM600,000 seized by Perhilitan in July 2016.
According to the Operation Dragon report by the Wildlife Justice Commission, a non-profit NGO based in The Hague, the Indian national had accompanied every shipment and would have received the payment for the animals.
The commission’s investigators had worked with Perhilitan officers, which resulted in two raids on a safe house, which has been rented from a Malaysian family, and a hotel in Kuala Lumpur in July 2016. The raids led to the arrest of four Indian nationals.
Although the man was charged, he failed to appear in court and is currently wanted.
In October 2017, Malaysia asked Interpol to issue a Red Notice for his arrest.
The man has been implicated in a case study cited in the report by the investigators, who also identified a major dealer, identified as “Person of Interest 1”.
The trafficker, who is from Chennai but has previously lived in Malaysia, had described how his “trusted contact” in the country ensured his stock was brought safely into the country as cargo and then transferred to a courier’s carry-on luggage into KLIA.
“Delivery to Malaysia was the cheapest and preferred option offered by him, who also indicated that it was much cheaper and easier to bribe officials in Malaysia than in Thailand,” said the report.
The trafficker, who is also wanted by several law enforcement agencies, including Interpol, was arrested in October 2017.
In another case study, investigators were introduced to a man named “Sugan”, who claimed to be able to facilitate the movement of wildlife in and out of Malaysia through a corrupt official, who is his uncle.
The investigators were also told of the uncle’s willingness to illegally ship wildlife through KLIA.
Sugan later arranged for investigators to meet a Chinese trafficker, who also used the same corrupt official to facilitate his illegal trade out of Malaysia and claimed to be able to supply ivory, pangolins and tigers too.
The Chinese trafficker, the report said, indicated that he had access to corrupt senior officials in Malaysia and claimed that he had up to 600kg of ivory that he was selling on behalf of them.
“After weeks of negotiations, investigators were finally able to sight and document 411kg of ivory for sale,” it said.
The probe by the commission resulted in Perhilitan arresting two Malaysian men as well as a Chinese national in August 2016.