Transnational environmental crime (TEC) is often not taken seriously within the broader policy and enforcement community. It is one of the fastest growing areas of cross-border criminal enterprise involving high profits and low risk for those involved in timber trafficking, wildlife smuggling, the black market in ozone-depleting substances, and the illegal trade in hazardous and toxic waste. TEC is increasingly characterized by commodity-specific smuggling networks, the intrusion of criminal groups involved in other forms of illegal trade and, in some cases, politically motivated organizations for whom this generates income to support other activities. But unlike other forms of transnational crime, there is no international treaty to prevent, suppress, and punish the kinds of trafficking and smuggling that constitute transnational environmental crime. The global regulatory and enforcement community has therefore developed innovative collaborative mechanisms to meet both the criminal and environmental challenges associated with this increasingly serious form of cross-border crime. Despite their successes, their efforts remain underresourced. This article examines the challenges of TEC and efforts to respond to those challenges in the face of uncertain resources and limited awareness.
At the 11th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in April 2005, speakers identified wildlife smuggling and timber trafficking as an area of evolving organized criminal activity deserving of international attention? Within five years, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) included a chapter on the illegal trade in environmental resources in its 2010 Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment, as well the more familiar Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) challenges of drugs, arms, and people smuggling? In March 2012, INTERPOL convened its first ever meeting of International Chiefs of Environmental Compliance and Enforcement. Delegates at the meeting confirmed their concerns about "the scale of environmental crime and the connection with organized transnational crime, including ... issues of smuggling, corruption, fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, and murder." (3) Two months later, in May 2012, the U. S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held hearings on the national and global security implications of elephant poaching in Africa. Committee Chairman John Kerry reminded those present that elephant poaching is a "multi-million dollar criminal enterprise ... interwoven [with] some of Central and East Africa's most brutal conflicts." (4)
Something is clearly going on. Transnational environmental crime is reputed to be one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity globally, worth billions of dollars in profit to criminal groups around the world. Estimates range from $31 billion to $40 billion a year or more. (5) Data from just a small selection of recent seizures and enforcement activity confirms the size and global reach of the illegal environmental trade. In November and December 2011, authorities in Guatemala uncovered three shipping containers ready for export, containing a total of almost 180 cubic meters of rosewood. (6) Between July 2010 and August 2012, customs and enforcement personnel working across Europe and Central Asia intercepted more than 3,000 refrigerant cylinders containing over 60 metric tons of illegally traded ozone-depleting substances (ODS). (7) In the first months of 2012, enforcement officers in Colombia rescued more than 46,000 animals, birds, and reptiles destined for the illegal international market. (8) In June 2012, customs officials in Sri Lanka seized 1.5 tons of ivory in the port of Colombo. The 359 tusks, which were determined to have come from Uganda, had been shipped out of Africa through Kenya and were en route to buyers in Dubai. (9) INTERPOL's Operation Cage, conducted across thirty-two countries in July 2012, resulted in the seizure of more than 8,700 birds and animals, including reptiles, mammals and insects, and the arrest of nearly 4,000 people. (10)
As the Environmental Investigation Agency puts it, environmental crime is "serious, transnational and organized." (11) Crimes associated with illegal extraction, harvest, and waste are serious due to the environmental consequences, the ways in which these crimes undermine the rule of law and good governance--at local, national, and global levels--and the links with violence, corruption, and a range of cross-over crimes such as money laundering. Environmental crimes have become increasingly transnational, as those involved take advantage of a globalizing economy characterized by free trade, increases in the frequency and volume of commodity shipments, fewer border controls (such as those that apply in the European Union, the Schengen Area, the Central America-4 Border Control area, or in free trade zones of the kind established in Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, and parts of Africa), and the opportunity to launder profits into legitimate enterprise through financial and banking systems that have a global reach. This area of criminal activity is sufficiently systematic and organized such that it now merits consideration alongside other forms of transnational organized crime.
DEFINING TRANSNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
TEC involves the movement across borders of species, resources, and pollutants in contravention of domestic law or in violation of prohibition or regulation regimes established by multilateral environmental agreements. It includes the trafficking of illegally-logged timber; smuggling of endangered, threatened, and protected species; the black market in ODS and other prohibited or regulated chemicals; and the transboundary dumping of toxic and hazardous waste including electronic waste (e-waste). INTERPOL now formally recognizes the illegal exploitation of marine living resources, often referred to simply as "fisheries crime," as part of this broader suite of criminal enterprise. These particular forms of organized illegal trade fit the definition of transnational crime in the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. These crimes are either committed in more than one state or are committed in one state but with a substantial part of the preparation, planning, direction, or control taking place in another state. (12) In effect, the products, the perpetrators, and often the profits move across borders with the knowing intention of obtaining illegal gain.
The environmental consequences of TEC are well understood. Wildlife trafficking presents a serious threat to species and biodiversity. The demand for skins and traditional medicine pharmacopeia, for example, has contributed to the reduction in the number of tigers to such an extent that fewer than 3,200 are now estimated to exist in the wild. (13) The illegal pet trade has brought species such as the Lear's Macaw, native to Brazil, to the brink of extinction. Illegal logging and the trade in stolen timber is a major driver of deforestation, habitat destruction, and species endangerment. The continued use of illegally produced or traded ODS is an obvious factor in continued ozone depletion and its consequences which include an epidemiologically significant increase in skin cancers, cataracts, suppression of immune systems in humans and animals, and reduced productivity in plants and phytoplankton. The kinds of waste products that are traded or dumped illegally, often in developing countries, can contribute to land and water contamination, health hazards due to toxic exposure, and a long-term adverse impact on food chains.
In both its domestic and transnational forms, environmental crime complicates efforts at sustainable development, denies income to governments, compromises the security of local communities, and fosters corruption. Each year, people from local communities and national agencies involved in protecting wildlife, preventing poaching, fighting against illegal logging and timber trafficking, or defending against the hazards of illegal waste and chemical trade are the victims of violence and murder.
Each of these illegal market sectors reflects patterns of demand and supply. In the illegal wildlife trade, supply follows demand. Private collectors and zoos in developed and developing countries want rare and unusual species.14 Consumer preferences create niche markets for components of protected plants and animals that are used in traditional Asian and African medicines, in exotic foods such as bushmeat and reef fish, and in fashion items that use ivory, tortoise shell, or shatoosh (the wool of the endangered Tibetan antelope, the chiru, which has to be killed for the wool to be collected). The Asia Pacific region is thought to account for up to three-quarters of the illegal wildlife trade either as source or destination. But South America has also become a so-called wildlife crime hot spot, with up to 15 percent of the illegal trade now estimated to be sourced in Brazil alone. (15) Developed countries are not immune--countries such as Australia and New Zealand, for example, are prime targets for poachers and smugglers seeking wild birds, reptiles, and native insects for sale to collectors in the international marketplace. Wild birds of prey are smuggled from the United Kingdom to the falconry market in the Middle East. Poachers have targeted North American bears for the Asian medicine trade. The trade in illegally logged timber, which one observer describes as being of "industrial scale," is driven by a global demand for cheap timber, by specific market demand for high-value species (such as rosewood and mahogany), and by corporate efforts to generate quick profits by avoiding environmental oversight and government fees and taxes. (16)
The black market in ODS is, somewhat ironically, a direct but unintended demand-driven consequence of international efforts to protect the ozone layer through restricting and then prohibiting the production and consumption of such chemicals. Demands for cheap ODS (rather than substitutes that require expensive retro fitting) went "underground," first in developed countries and then in developing countries as the provisions of the 1987 Montreal Protocol and its amendments made production and consumption effectively illegal. The illegal trade in hazardous waste, on the other hand, is explicitly supply-driven as those who produce waste seek to avoid high disposal costs and those who export it for illegal disposal seek quick profit. While much of it ends up in developing countries, INTERPOL's Pollution Crimes Working Group has identified a profitable trade between developed countries. Organized "waste laundering" between the United States and Canada, for example, is estimated to generate criminal profits of Can$2.48 million a year. (17) Although various forms of waste enter the illegal trade--sometimes smuggled, sometimes mixed with legitimate consignments and sometimes moved openly with fraudulent documentation or mislabeling--the sector of most recent concern is e-waste. Not all e-waste trade is illegal under international law: used computers and other high-tech electronics can be sent overseas for appropriate and safe re-use or for recycling in the secondhand market. But studies suggest that significant amounts of e-waste are shipped internationally, and often covertly, in contravention of these provisions. (18)
CALCULATING THE SIZE AND VALUE OF TEC
As with all other forms of illegal trade, figures on the exact size and value of the TEC market rely partly on extrapolation from actual seizures and partly on speculation and guesswork. These efforts are complicated by the fact that there is often a parallel legal trade in many of the TEC commodities. Nevertheless, the extent of illegal trade should not be underestimated.
Conservative estimates suggest that a minimum of 25 percent of the international trade in wildlife and plants is illegal. (19) A detailed study prepared for the American Forest and Paper Association in 2004 calculated that something between 12 and 17 percent of the roundwood that enters international trade (by volume) could be of "suspicious" origin, with 5 to 10 percent of the total global value of wood products traceable to equally suspicious sources. (20) Other reports suggest that the money flows associated with individual transactions in the illegal timber trade "could run to several tens of millions of dollars." (21) The market might generate profit for timber traffickers but it is costly for governments. The World Bank estimates that illegal logging in developing countries results in asset and revenue loss in excess of $10 billion a year, with a further $5 billion lost through evasion of tax and royalty payments. (22)
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated that in the mid-1990s, the illegal ODS trade accounted for something between 16,000 and 30,000 tons a year, equivalent to more than 10 percent of global production. (23) Various sources have described it "rivaling cocaine as among the most profitable illegal imports crossing U.S. borders" at the time. (24) Despite improved surveillance and tighter national and international controls, the trade remains robust with estimates that smuggling still accounts for 10 to 20 percent of the legal trade in ODS, even though the overall size of that trade has decreased. (25) The extent of illegal trade in hazardous waste is perhaps the most difficult to estimate, given the range of substances and products that might qualify as prohibited or regulated in trade under the Basel Convention. Surveillance efforts hint at the possible extent of criminal trade. A 2005 enforcement operation across seventeen European seaports found illegal activity associated with almost half of the waste shipments that were physically inspected. (26)
High profits and low risk make this an increasingly attractive form of criminal endeavor even for small-scale operators--the "very essence of rational profit maximizing" as one observer puts it. (27) Cut pieces of illegal ivory have been reported as selling for $1,863 a kilogram in Vietnam. (28) An individual endangered Lear's Macaw can sell for $60,000 on the illegal market. In 2010, Thai customs seized 500 rosewood logs that had an estimated value of $1.5 million in the intended Chinese market. (29) Indonesian ironwood, which is banned from export but is illegally logged and smuggled into Malaysia, can sell for $2000 per cubic meter. (30) In August 2012, 16,000 dried seahorses destined for the Asian market were seized from traffickers in Peru: they would have delivered the smugglers about a quarter of a million dollars had they reached their destination. (31)
TEC AND CRIMINAL NETWORKS
Some TEC is opportunistic and occasional, carried out by individual smugglers or networks that involve only a small number of people who procure, transport, and sell commodities. The routes are usually uncomplicated and the methods of concealment often unsophisticated (secret compartments in vehicles or luggage, express post-bags and, as with drugs, hidden on the person). But if INTERPOL is correct in its assessment, "a significant proportion of both wildlife and pollution crime is carried out by organized criminal networks." (32) Some of this involves commodity-specific smuggling networks that are professional and well organized--a "complex web of operators within and across countries," according to Kishor and Lescuyer. (33) Those networks may well involve multiple sources of goods, participants and criminal nodes in the chain of custody, and the use of a range of methods to conceal goods or to provide misleading information about their true nature or origin. The sophistication of these networks makes it possible for bulk consignments of illegal wildlife, timber, waste, and ODS to be moved across borders by ship, barge, truck, and plane. To make detection more difficult, illicit environmental goods are often moved along complex routes through multiple transshipment points where surveillance and enforcement is lax. For example, with support from financiers in the United States, timber from the Congo basin is being moved through companies in Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda before being exported to the European Union, the Middle East, China, and other Asian countries. (34) Intelligence on merbau smuggling syndicates in Southeast Asia shows that they involve timber brokers in Jakarta, companies and individuals in Malaysia who oversee the actual logging, agents in Singapore who charter cargo vessels and arrange false documentation, and brokers in Singapore and Hong Kong who connect sellers in places such as Papua with buyers in India and China. (35) The illegal trade in elephant tusks from Africa into Asia is reported to involve interlocking webs of shell companies, Southeast Asian and African nationals, and a smuggling route that trades from Africa across multiple borders and through several Asian ports before reaching its final destination. (36)
TEC is no longer confined, if it ever was, just to criminal networks that specialize in specific species, waste, and chemicals. Well-known organized crime groups involved in other kinds of illicit activity have become actively involved in the most lucrative areas of TEC, exhibiting what Simon Mackenzie refers to as "multiple competences" and David Luna calls "poly-crime." (37) The trade in endangered species, for example, is reported to constitute part of the burgeoning portfolio of criminal activities for Russian and Chinese crime groups and smuggling rings. (38) Crime groups in Asia are active in the trade of rhinoceros horn, and the Neapolitan Camorra is thought to be "deeply involved in [the] trafficking of animals." (39) The Russian mafia is involved in the very lucrative illegal trade in sturgeon and caviar. Libyan criminal groups have extended their activities into the illegal bird trade in Southern Africa. (40) Japanese yakuza have capitalized on the illegal trade in hazardous waste and Chinese triad groups are reported to be central to the kinds of wildlife trafficking that feeds the global market for traditional Asian medicines. (41)
Parallel trafficking--moving environmental contraband along the same trade routes as other illegal commodities, combining illegal shipments, or using ostensibly legal shipments to conceal other forms of illegal goods and resources--has become part of the repertoire of criminal expertise that facilitates effective TEC chains of custody. Protected turtles and marijuana have been uncovered in the same shipments. (42) Live snakes have been found stuffed with cocaine. (43) Illegal ODS imports into Italy were discovered during an investigation into arms trafficking. (44) A seizure of illegal chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the Gambia also uncovered two tons of cocaine smuggled from South America. (45) Illegal logging and gun smuggling go hand-in-hand in Liberia. (46) So-called narco-traffickers in Peru are reported to be turning to timber trafficking to hide cocaine, launder money, and generate quick profits. (47) Seizure records indicate that illegal environmental commodities have also been used in barter trade. Protected birds have been smuggled from Australia to Thailand in exchange for heroin. (48) Chinese crime groups are reported to be smuggling the raw ingredients for methamphetamine production to South Africa in exchange for illegally harvested abalone, which can fetch as much as $200 a pound in Asian retail markets. (49)
As with other forms of transnational crime, those involved in TEC take advantage of the 'upperworld' of corrupt officials and politicians to evade enforcement and control mechanisms and protect the illegal chains of custody. Local officials, customs officers, police and the judiciary are bribed to overlook illegal shipments, to assist with false paper trails and forged documentation, to help evidence disappear during prosecutions, to delay or drop prosecutions, and even to return no convictions in the cases of those who are brought to trial. (50) Profits--and sometimes the commodities themselves--are laundered into the licit economy through networks of corrupt officials, delinquent professionals, and front companies that are also involved in legitimate trade. Government officials, protection and enforcement officers, and politicians also take key roles as the organizers, facilitators, and beneficiaries of illicit market networks. The bribery and corruption associated with TEC undermine attempts to instill good governance. They corrode the institutions of the state and compromise core values such as the rule of law. In the most extreme cases of high-level corruption and personal patronage, the state itself no longer functions as a provider and guarantor of public goods but as a 'protection racket' or kleptocracy that sustains private appropriation and rent-seeking.
The attractions of TEC activities--high profits and low risk--have not been lost on groups outside the normal criminal milieu. Militia groups in parts of Africa are turning to wildlife smuggling and timber trafficking to generate income to buy arms. The Janjaweed militia in Sudan has become heavily involved in elephant poaching in Chad and the Kenyan Wildlife Service reports that armed groups from Somalia are behind an increase in elephant poaching within Kenya. Rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of The Congo are thought to be active participants in the illegal ivory trade. Peru's Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerillas are reported to use timber trafficking to generate income. (51) Recent evidence even hints at the possible involvement of organizations in South Asia that have links to terror groups such as al-Qaeda. (52)
RESESPONDING TO TEC: PROBLEM SOLVING AND ENFORCEMENT
Despite the fact that TEC shares many of the characteristics of other types of transnational crime, it "has yet to be viewed, and accordingly responded to, as 'mainstream' crime." (53) This observation about wildlife trafficking applies equally to other environmental crime sectors. (54) No single international treaty sets out objectives, principles, and practices for dealing with TEC. Existing transnational crime treaties--such as the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the UN Convention Against Corruption--pay little attention to environmental crime as a serious crime. The preamble to the UNTOC convention suggests, in effect, that it should constitute an effective tool for international cooperation to combat criminal activities such as the illicit trafficking in endangered species of wild flora and fauna, but this is the only TEC-relevant reference in the whole agreement. Activities associated with a range of environmental crime sectors-such as poaching, smuggling, or illegal logging--often do not attract the four years or more of 'deprivation of liberty' under domestic law that would establish them as serious crimes under the Convention. (55) Nor are they often mandated as predicate offences whose proceeds may then be determined to be an offence under the UN Convention Against Corruption. (56) As a result, governments, enforcement agencies, international organizations, and nongovernment organizations face extra challenges when it comes to the fight against TEC: "scarce awareness and knowledge of the phenomenon ... insufficient regulation ... and scarce international cooperation," according to the director of the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). (57)
Disrupting transnational criminal networks of any kind is difficult. In TEC, as in other areas of criminal endeavor, the most sophisticated smuggling networks are often better resourced than law enforcement and border control agencies. Intelligence on the activities of TEC networks is often limited in comparison to the information available on other TOC sectors such as drugs or arms. Interagency arrangements within countries (let alone between them) for exchange of information and intelligence, joint operations or mutual assistance, are often poorly coordinated.
At a minimum, responding to TEC requires the right legislative and regulatory mix for the prevention and detection of illegal activities and the apprehension and prosecution of those who undertake them. This demands "firm and strengthened action" of the kind called for in the outcome document of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20) to restrict both supply and demand side activities. (58) Legislative approaches are insufficient if management and regulatory authorities are poorly resourced, training is limited, forensic capacity is in short supply, and data collection is patchy. In turn, a lack of reliable data makes it difficult for law enforcement communities to use the kinds of techniques of modern crime analysis which are needed if anti-crime strategies, including cross-border operations, are to be effective.
In the absence of a clear international legal framework that places TEC firmly in the transnational crime context, those involved in cross border enforcement have relied on the provisions of a series of intergovernmental treaties whose primary purpose is environmental protection. The multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) that are most relevant to TEC are the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal. (59) Each establishes guidelines for the harvesting, production, use of, and trade in particular substances or species. They exhibit a preference for trade regulation rather than prohibition. Each treaty establishes schedules of those species; chemicals or wastes that cannot be traded across state borders; the conditions under which trade could occur; and the various forms of licensing, control, and consent procedures that are required to manage that trade. Of the three, only the Basel Convention contains a specific reference to breaches of those provisions as constituting illegal trade. Article 4(3) refers to this activity as "criminal" and, in article 9, parties agree to "introduce appropriate ... legislation to prevent and punish illegal traffic." (60) CITES also requires parties to penalize trade that violates the provisions of the convention but avoids any use of the terms "criminal" or "illegal." The Montreal Protocol says nothing about illegal trade, and the parties were unprepared for the possibility that the Protocol would generate black market outcomes.
Four broad areas of effort have helped to overcome this potentially unpromising background. First, the MEAs have moved to take illegal trade more seriously. Second, environmental crime has become a more prominent issue for organizations whose mandate lies more explicitly in the area of transnational crime, impelled in part by the advocacy of nongovernmental organizations. Third, the fragmentation of effort across multiple agencies has been reduced through cooperative arrangements that function increasingly, and effectively, as transgovernmental networks. Finally, operational and enforcement efforts have started to take more account of the need to disrupt criminal networks rather than to focus only on individuals and commodity seizures.
The MEAs have taken steps, at least in a declaratory sense, to pay more attention to illegal trade. CITES has adopted a series of resolutions on wildlife trafficking. Its enforcement expert group has been supplemented with a number of species-specific enforcement task forces, and the secretariat's enforcement section was recently expanded from one to two permanent staff. The parties have gone so far as to declare all or any trade in particular species (such as sturgeon) or product (such as bear gall) to be illegal. The Montreal Protocol has also initiated a series of decisions on illegal trade--though the parties conspicuously avoid using the terms crime or criminal--with calls for more effective tracking and reporting systems. The secretariat, hosted by UNEP, has been particularly active in providing compliance assistance under the OzonAction Programme. Parties to the Basel Convention have also established procedures for reporting illegal traffic, along with model legislation and training manuals that emphasize the role of national agencies in dealing with illegal trade.
The growing recognition that TEC is a challenge not just for those with a focus on environmental protection but also for those fighting transnational crime has drawn international agencies with a mandate for crime prevention, border protection, and law enforcement into the policy and operational milieu. The most active in this regard are the World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL, and the UNODC. The WCO has committed to "fighting against environmental crime at the border" through compliance and capacity building projects, the Green Customs Initiative and the active involvement of its Regional Offices for Capacity Building, Regional Training Centers, and Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices. (61) At its 2010 General Assembly, INTERPOL member states recognized the "vital need for a global response to combating environmental crime" and that the organization "should play a leading role in supporting the international enforcement efforts." (62) INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Programme "coordinates and supports law enforcement operations around the world, with the aim of dismantling the organized criminal networks behind environmental crime." (63) Even though the program remains extra-budgetary, reliant on donations from member states and partner organizations, recent efforts have resulted in a number of successful operational outcomes supported by training, information sharing, and intelligence analysis. The UNODC takes its cue for action from the observation that "well-organized criminal groups have turned illicit environmental exploitation into a professional business with lucrative revenues." (64) As with WCO and INTERPOL, UNODC contributes to research and analysis, capacity building, and awareness-raising on environmental crime. This has worked particularly effectively through UNODC's regional Border Liaison Office networks: the Southeast Asian network has led the way with environmental crime now added to its (admittedly already challenging) mandate to strengthen cross border cooperation on transnational crime. (65)
Action on TEC extends well beyond the formal mandates of intergovernmental organizations; the full scope is simply too extensive to cover in any detail here. Bilateral and regional agreements bring governments together in arrangements such as Wildlife Enforcement Networks (ASEAN-WEN) provides the model here); the European Union's Voluntary Partnership Agreements, which focuses on forest governance and law enforcement; and the Lusaka Action Task Force, which implements cooperative enforcement commitments among governments in Eastern and Southern Africa on illicit wildlife trade. Key nongovernmental organizations--TRAFFIC, the Environmental Investigation Agency, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare to name a few--have a history of working independently and with governments and international organizations to monitor environmental crime, gather and share intelligence, and provide training and capacity building. Nongovernmental organizations from the crime and corruption sector, such as Global Witness and Transparency International, have also taken up the challenges of TEC as part of their broader mandates.
Operational and policy fragmentation of this kind, across a raft of organizations and arrangements, is often seen to be disadvantageous--and sometimes even dysfunctional--when it comes to dealing with transnational challenges. The multi-agency and multisite activity that characterizes TEC enforcement is not, however, fundamentally conflictive. Rather, it has come to reflect a state of affairs that has changed from loose structures of integration among institutions and decision-making procedures, to one that approximates what Biermann and his colleagues refer to as "synergistic fragmentation" among "distinct yet substantially [or, at least in this case, increasingly] integrated institutional arrangements." (66) In the absence of a lead international agreement on TEC, and in the face of institutional fragmentation, the global regulatory and enforcement community has developed innovative networks and collaborative mechanisms to meet both the criminal and the environmental challenges associated with this increasingly serious form of cross border crime. These kinds of network arrangements can demonstrate more flexibility than formal intergovernmental agreements established through binding international law. They can serve to improve the quality and depth of cooperation, expand regulatory reach, strengthen data collection, and facilitate the flow of information among multiple actors.
Some of this takes the form of TEC sector-specific memoranda of understanding (MOU) between the key MEAs, the institutions that host them, and other lead organizations. (67) These partnership arrangements have also become cross sectorial. In 2002, for example, the secretariats of CITES, the Basel Convention, the Vienna Convention, and the Montreal Protocol--bringing together wildlife, waste, and ODS--signed a MOU to strengthen cooperation among them. These MOUs are not designed for operational or enforcement purposes; rather they call for mutual consultation, information exchange, reciprocal representation, and technical cooperation. This networked support for problem solving is also behind efforts such as the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), the Informal Prior Informed Consent Network (iPIC), the European Union Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange (EU-TWIX), and the Asian Regional Partners Forum on Combating Environmental Crime (ARPEC). (68)
Each of these steps has helped to construct the groundwork for support and cooperation on enforcement operations. This growing awareness that enforcement actions need to be coordinated and transnational, along with a recognition of the benefits of more effective training and use of crime fighting techniques and intelligence-led policing used in other TOC sectors, has been accompanied by a commitment to dismantle the criminal networks behind TEC. INTERPOL has made this one of the lead objectives of its Environmental Crime Programme. (69) As Mackenzie points out, this strategy can be more "resource-intensive ..., but is likely in the end to reap wider results." (70) INTERPOL has taken a leadership role in coordinating a number of targeted global and regional investigation and enforcement actions, which have resulted in arrests and seizures worth millions of dollars. (71) The Green Customs Initiative, which started in 2003, is a cooperative partnership of six MEA secretariats and five international organizations with the express purpose of detecting and preventing illegal trade in environmentally sensitive commodities (alongside efforts to facilitate legal trade). One of its most successful operations--the evocatively named Project Sky-hole Patching--brought together customs authorities, the WCO, and UNEP in coordinated enforcement actions that resulted in the seizure of significant quantities of illegal ODS. (72) The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) was established late in 2010. It brings together the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, WCO, UNODC, and the World Bank to deliver coordinated support to national agencies and regional networks at the frontline of detecting and dealing with the illegal wildlife trade. ICCWC moved quickly to draw on the skills of its individual member organizations to provide training on the use of enforcement techniques, such as controlled deliveries, which have the potential to deliver better intelligence and evidence on the supply chain as well as better arrest outcomes.
Transnational environmental crime is a serious crime that is not always taken seriously enough in the wider transnational crime fighting community. It generates profits of billions of dollars for individuals and criminal networks, undermines environmental protection and sustainable development, robs governments of income, compromises the rule of law, fosters corruption, brings violence to local communities, and puts those who defend against this form of criminal activity in danger. ICCWC has called for a "new era where perpetrators of serious wildlife crimes will face a formidable and coordinated response," an expectation that can and should be extended to other TEC sectors including timber trafficking, the black market in ODS, and the illegal trade in hazardous waste. (73) Agencies such as INTERPOL, the WCO, and the UNODC, along with the secretariats of key MEAs and the institutions that host them, often in coordination with Nongovernmental Organizations whose experience sometimes out-strips that of national agencies, have taken important steps to bring greater awareness to the challenges of TEC, to enhance cooperation, to improve operational coordination, and to strengthen enforcement outcomes. But they continue to do so with limited resources. This new era can only be achieved if those organizations and agencies central to the fight against TEC are afforded the same kind of resources and support provided to prevent, suppress, and punish other forms of transnational crime.
(1) UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, "Report of the Eleventh UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice" (A/CONF.203/18, 17 May 2005), 3, 23; This built on a series of earlier resolutions adopted by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to which the Commission reports, on the links between transnational organized crime and illegal environmental activity; See ECOSOC, Resolution 2001/12, "Illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora," and Resolution 16/1, "International cooperation in preventing and combating illicit international trafficking in forest products, including timber, wildlife and other forest biological resources," E/CN.15/200T/17/Rev.1.
(2) UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (Vienna: UNODC, 2010).
(3) INTERPOL, "International Chiefs of Environmental Compliance and Enforcement: Summit Report" (INTERPOL, Lyon, France: 2012), 2.
(4) U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Kerry Statement: Ivory and Insecurity: The Global Implications of Poaching in Africa, 24 May 2012, 2; This was not the first time that the U.S. Congress had investigated issues linking the illegal wildlife trade with organized crime and security threats. See Liana Sun Wyler and Pervase A. Sheikh, International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy (Washington DC: Congressional Research Service, 2008), 2.
(5) Andrew Lauterback, Statement by the Chair, INTERPOL Environmental Crimes Committee to the 5th International Conference on Environmental Crime (Lyon: 2, 3 June 2005); Jeremy Lovell, "Ecocrooks outwitting law agencies," Reuters, 28 May 2002, http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/ newsid/16164/newsDate/28-May-2002/story.htm (accessed 19 September 2012).
(6) Edward Fox, "Seizures Point to Timber Trafficking Ring in Guatemala," InSight: Organized Crime in the Americas, 20 February 2012, http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/seizures-point-to-timbertrafficking-ring-in- guatemala (accessed 19 September 2012).
(7) "Montreal Protocol Olympics for Customs & Enforcement Officers--Ozone Protection Medals for China, European Union, Finland, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia FYR, Russia, Serbia and Uzbekistan," UN Environmental Programme, http://www.unep.org/ozonaction/ecanetwork/Portals/138/ECA%202012/ Announcements/text.pdf.
(8) Victoria Rossi, "Colombia Police Rescued Over 46,000 Illegally Trafficked Animals in 2012," InSight: Organized Crime in the Americas, 4 September 2012, http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/ colombia-46000-illegally-trafficked-animals-2012 (accessed 19 September 2012).
(9) "Sri Lanka Seizes 1.5 Tonnes of Ivory," TRAFFIC, 1 June 2012, http://www.traffic.org/ home/2012/6/1/sri-lanka-seizes-15-tonnes-of-ivory.html?printerFriendly=true (accessed 19 September 2012).
(10) INTERPOL Media Release, "Thousands Arrested in INTERPOL Operation Targeting Illegal Trade in Birds" (25 July 2012).
(11) Debbie Banks et al., "Environmental Crime: A Threat to Our Future," (London: EIA, 2008), 2.
(12) UN General Assembly, UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, General Assembly Resolution 55/25, 15 November 2000, art. 3.
(13) "World Leaders Aim for Deal to Save the Tiger," TRAFFIC: Asia Wildlife Trade Bulletin, no. 11 (May 2011), 4.
(14) TRAFFIC Bulletin: Seizures and Prosecutions: Vol. 16 No. 3 (March 1997) to Vol. 24 No. 1 (April 2012).
(15) Dener Giovanni, 'Taking Animal Trafficking Out of the Shadows: RENCTAS Uses the Internet to Combat a Multi-billion Dollar Trade', Innovations 1, no. 2 (2006), 27.
(16) Sam Lawson, The Ramin Racket: The Role of CITES in Curbing Illegal Timber Trade (London: EIA, 2004), 1.
(17) INTERPOL Pollution Crimes Working Group, Assessing the Links Between Organized Crime and Pollution Crimes (Lyon: INTERPOL Secretariat, 2006), 2.
(18) See Michigan State University and Bureau Veritas, "Electronic Waste and Organized Crime--Assessing the Links" (report, Interpol Pollution Crime Working Group, May 2009).
(19) U.S. Department of State Press Release, "Countering Multi-Billion Dollar Illegal Wildlife Trade Focus Of Government-Backed Global Coalition"(10 February, 2007), http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/oes/ rls/prsrl/2007/81005.htm (accessed 19 September 2012).
(20) Seneca Creek Associates, "'Illegal Logging and Global Wood Markets: The Competitive Impacts on the U.S. Wood Products Industry" (Wood Resources International, November 2004), ES-1.
(21) Nalin Kishor and Guillaume Lescuyer, "Controlling Illegal Logging in Domestic and International Markets by Harvesting Multi-level Governance Opportunities," International Journal of the Commons 6, no. 2 (2012), 261.
(22) World Bank, Strengthening Forest Law Enforcement and Governance: Addressing a Systemic Constraint to Sustainable Development (Washington DC: World Bank, 2006), 2.
(23) Duncan Brack, "The Scope of the Problem: An Overview of the Illegal ODS Trade," OzonAction Newsletter, Special Supplement no. 6 (2001), 4.
(24) Cited in Charles W. Schmidt, "Environmental Crimes: Profiting at the Earth's Expense," Environmental Health Perspectives 112, no. 2 (2004), A97.
(25) Ezra Clark, "Ozone Depleting Substances--The Global Illegal Trade: History and Current Trends" (Meeting of the Regional Ozone Network for Europe and Central Asia Paper, Ashgabat Turkmenistan: 2007), 1.
(26) UNEP Press Release, "'Liability for Cote D'Ivoire Hazardous Waste Clean-up" (24 November 2006), http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=485&-ArticleID=54 30&l=en (accessed 19 September 2012).
(27) Geopolicity, "The Economics of Piracy: Pirate Ransoms and Livelihoods Off the Coast of Somalia" (Geopolicity Europe, Dublin: 2011), 10.
(28) World Wildlife Foundation Press Release, "Elephants Under Threat as Illegal Ivory Price Soars in VietNam" 16 February 2009, http://wwf.panda.org/?156422/Elephants-under-threat-as-illegal-ivory-price-soars-in-Viet-Nam (accessed 19 September 2012).
(29) Environmental Investigation Agency, "Rosewood Robbery: The Case for Thailand to List Rosewood on CITES" (EIA, London: 2012), 3.
(30) Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, "E.E. Kalimantan Police Sound Alarm Over Illegal Timber Flow to Malaysia," Jakarta Globe, 5 September 2012, http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/e-kalimantan-police-sound-alarm-over-illegal-timber-flow-to-malaysia/542358 (accessed 19 September 2012).
(31) Tracey Knott, "Peru Seizes 16,000 Dried Seahorses," InSight: Organized Crime in the Americas, 24 August 2012, http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/peru-seizes-16000-dried-seahorses (accessed 19 September 2012).
(32) See "Environmental Crime," INTERPOL, http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Environmental-crime/Environmental-crime (accessed 19 September 2012).
(33) Kishor and Lescuyer, "Controlling Illegal Logging," 259.
(34) Christian Nellemann, Ian Redmond, and Johannes Refisch, "The Last Stand of the Gorilla: Environmental Crime and Conflict in the Congo Basin" (UNEP GRID Arendal, Norway: 2010), 6.
(35) Julian Newman and Sam Lawson, "The Last Frontier: Illegal Logging in Papua and China's Massive Timber Theft" (Telapak/Environmental Investigation Agency, London/Bogor: 2005), 9.
(36) Debbie Banks et al., "Upholding the Law: The Challenge of Effective Enforcement" (EIA, London: 2007).
(37) Simon Mackenzie, "Organised Crime and Common Transit Networks" (working paper, Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, no. 233, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra: July 2002), 2; David Luna, "Overview: Dismantling Illicit Networks and Corruption Nodes" (paper at the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference, Athens: 2008), 2.
(38) Phil Williams, "Transnational Criminal Networks" in Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime and Militancy, eds. John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt (RAND Santa Monica: 2001).
(39) Phil Williams, "Organizing Transnational Crime: Networks, Marketstrans and Hierarchies" in Combating Transnational Crime: Concepts, Activities and Responses, Phil Williams and Dimitri Vlassis, eds., (Frank Cass, London: 2001), 78-9.
(40) Greg L. Warchol, Linda L. Zupan, and Willie Clack, "Transnational Criminality: An Analysis of the Illegal Wildlife Market in South Africa," International Criminal Justice Review 13, no. 1 (2003), 1-27.
(41) LaVerle B. Berry et al, "Transnational Activities of Chinese Crime Organizations" (a report prepared by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC: April 2003); Don Liddick, "The Traffic in Garbage and Hazardous Waste: An Overview," Trends in Organized Crime 13, no. 2-3 (2010), 136.
(42) Dee Cook, Martin Roberts, and Jason Lowther, The International Wildlife Trade and Organized Crime: A Review of the Evidence and the Role of the UK (WWF-UK, Godalming, Surrey: 2002).
(43) "Organised Criminal Gangs Deal Wildlife and Drugs," Environment News Service, 19 June 2002.
(44) Julian Newman, "The Tricks of Illegal Trade: How Criminals Smuggle ODS," OzonAction Newsletter, Special Supplement no. 6 (2001), 14.
(45) World Customs Organization, Project Sky-hole Patching II, 10 November 2010, 2.
(46) Douglas Farah, "Transnational Crime, Social Networks and Forests: Using Natural Resources to Finance Conflicts and Post-conflict Violence" (Program on Forests [PROFOR], Washington DC: 2010).
(47) Jamie Dettmer, "Peru: Narco-traffickers Use Illegal Logging to Boost Profits," Infosurhoy.com, 19 June 2012, http://infosurhoy.com/cocoon/saii/xhtml/en_GB/features/saii/features/main/2012/06/09/ feature-03 (accessed 19 September 2012).
(48) Cook, Roberts and Lowther, The International Wildlife Trade, 15.
(49) Mark Schoofs, "Traffic Jam: As Meth Trade Goes Global," The Wall Street Journal, 21 May 2007, http://www.aegis.org/DisplayContent/DisplayContent.aspx?sectionID=75666 (accessed 19 September 2012).
(50) See reports on the case of lucrative ivory seizures in Singapore in Banks et. al., Upholding the Law.
(51) Hannah Stone, "Colombia Declares War on Timber Trafficking Mafia," InSight: Organized Crime in the Americas, 31 August 2011, http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/colombia-declares-war-on-timber-trafficking-mafia (accessed 19 September 2012).
(52) Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, "Poaching for Bin Laden," The Guardian, 5 May 2007, http:// www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/may/05/terrorism.animalwelfare (accessed 19 September 2012).
(53) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Information Note, "The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime--ICCWC," April 2011, www.cites.org/eng/prog/iccwc.php (accessed 19 September 2012).
(55) UN General Assembly, UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, 8 January 2001, A/ Res/55/25, 2. The General Assembly Resolution that established the working group that led to the adoption of the convention (Resolution 53/111, December 1998) made no mention of this particular form of transnational criminal activity; UN General Assembly, UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, art. 2(a).
(56) UN General Assembly, UN Convention Against Corruption, 31 October 2003, A/Res/422, art. 2(h).
(57) Sandro Calvani, "Transnational Organized Crime: Emerging Trends of Global Concern" (NATO Defense College, Rome: 26 November 2009), 14.
(58) UN Conference on Sustainable Development Outcome, "The Future We Want" (June 2012), para 203.
(59) Two further conventions--the 1998 Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants--have been brought into the TEC governance architecture because of their own trade restrictions and through the development of a single integrated secretariat.
(60) Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, "Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal" (January 2011).
(61) "Project GAPIN on its Way," World Customs Organization, n.d., http://www.wcoomd.org/home_ cboverviewboxes_cbnewsl_cbargapinen.htm (accessed 19 September 2012).
(62) INTERPOL, "Sustainable Environmental Crime Programme," Resolution AG-2010-RES-03, November 2010.
(63) INTERPOL, "Fact Sheet: Environmental Crime," COM/FS/2012-05/PST03.
(64) UNODC, "Environmental Crime: The Trafficking of Wildlife and Timber" (Vienna: UNODC, 2012), 1.
(65) UNODC, "Border Liaison Offices in Southeast Asia 1999-2009: Ten years of fighting transnational organized crime" (Bangkok: UNODC Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific, 2009), 15.
(66) Frank Biermann, et al., "The Fragmentation of Global Governance Architectures: a Framework for Analysis," Global Environmental Politics 9, no. 4 (2009), 20.
(67) For example, the World Customs Organization has concluded MOUs with (among others) the CITES Secretariat (1997), the Basel Convention (1997), UNEP (2003) and the Lusaka Action Task Force (LATF). The LATF has established MOUs with the CITES Secretariat (2000), INTERPOL Secretariat (2006) and the Commission for Central African Forests (2010). INTERPOL has negotiated further MOUs with the CITES Secretariat (1998) and the Basel Convention (1999).
(68) Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, a U.S. government initiative, describes itself as a "voluntary public-private coalition of like-minded governments and organizations," See "Partners in the Global Fight Against Wildlife Trafficking," http://www.cawtgloba.org/about/; The Informal Prior Informed Consent Network was initially established to bring together governments in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific to strengthen cooperation on prior informed consent strategies for ODS. It has since expanded to include the European Union, as well as countries in Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The European Union Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange is a wildlife information exchange mechanism managed by TRAFFIC Europe for the EU. Asian Regional Partners Forum on Combating Environmental Crime brings together intergovernmental and national agencies, Nongovernmental Organizations and academic research programs to encourage awareness and cooperation on environmental crime issues in the Asia Pacific.
(69) INTERPOL, "Environmental Crime," on website http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/ Environmental-crime/Environmental-crime (accessed 19 September 2012).
(70) Mackenzie, Organized Crime, 6.
(71) See "Operational Support," on INTERPOL website, http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/ Environmental-crime/Operational-support.
(72) World Customs Organization, Project Sky-hole Patching II.
(73) John E. Scanlon, "CITES: From Stockholm in '72 to Rio+20 - Back to the future," Guest Article #13, Sustainable Development Policy and Practice, 6 July 2012, http://www.cites.org/eng/prog/iccwc.php (accessed 19 September 2012).
Lorraine Elliott is a professor of international relations and director of the Transnational Environmental Crime project at Australian National University.…