Two Customs men among 11 arrested for illegal wildlife trafficking

PETALING JAYA: Two customs officers are among 11 suspects who have been arrested following an operation targeting an international wildlife trafficking network.

The syndicate is believed to have bribed officers to turn a blind eye and allow them to take wildlife-related contraband meant for disposal and sell them.

The Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) said in statement on Wednesday (July 19) that it supported the

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in the operation together with the support of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Thailand.

"The syndicate is believed to have bribed law enforcement officers (customs officers and freight forwarders) to allow them to take wildlife contraband meant for disposal from a Customs warehouse and sell them after faking its destruction.

"The syndicate is also believed to be involved in money laundering," said the Hague-based body.

It added that 11 male suspects, including two Customs officers, have been arrested and are currently being questioned.

"Approximately 1.8 tonnes of pangolin scales have been seized so far as well as several luxury vehicles with an estimated value of over US$5mil (RM22.71mil).

"The WJC acknowledges MACC's dedication to rooting out corruption and its quick response to time-sensitive intelligence," it said, adding that this operation showcased the international cooperation that was essential to root out those in the private and public sectors who are engaging in corrupt practices that facilitate these crimes.

The WJC's mission is to disrupt and help dismantle organised crime networks trafficking in wildlife, timber and fish. The Wildlife Justice Commission does this through intelligence analysis and undercover investigations, helping law enforcement secure arrests and convictions, building their capacity to respond to wildlife trafficking, and holding governments accountable when they fail to act.

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