Law Enforcement Assistance

The WCS law enforcement (LEA) team consists of intelligence and investigative officers and aim to strengthen inter-governmental enforcement activities to degrade, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal networks.

The LEA team collects intelligence which aids Vietnamese law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate and prosecute cases of illegal wildlife trading. The team promotes strategic intelligence-led policing where information on criminal entities is collated, analysed and shared with key individuals along trafficking supply chains. Long term goals of the team are to enable officers within Vietnamese law enforcement agencies to have the knowledge, capacity and accountability to perform effective investigations and achieve prosecutions. 

The LEA team also works with the Vietnamese Government to review, interpret and provide feedback on current and new legislation relating to the illegal wildlife trade. We believe that by performing this work alongside strengthening investigative processes will result in an increased proportion of prosecutions. This is turn will lead to a higher risk trade and make participating in it a less appealing option for many people.

Key Work:

Co-ordinate and conduct investigations into wildlife trafficking networks in Viet Nam:

●      WCS undertake surveys of wild bush-meat restaurants to gather evidence of illegal wildlife sales to the bushmeat trade. Examples of this include work done in Dak Nong, Lam Dong and Dong Nai provinces amongst others.

●      Surveys conducted in Lam Dong and Dong Nai provinces revealed that out of a total of 184 restaurants surveyed over 80% were serving wildlife on the menu and over 50% of the total surveyed were serving protected wildlife.

●      This information was provided to the local authorities and resulted in public pledges of focus on the illegal wildlife trade. Local authorities have been provided with additional resources to tackle these issues and have increased monitoring of establishments.

●      The surveys also extend to establishments such as private zoos, souvenir and feng shui stores and Traditional Chinese Medicine stores. This work aims to document the extent of wildlife crime issues and where further work should be targeted.

WCS working with the Forest Protection Department to identify illegally traded species Pet trade

●      WCS has many arms of intelligence and has strong relationships that we can rely on to provide up to date and accurate information. This is evident through investigations into establishments which have been identified as holding endangered wildlife, often for the pet trade.

●      WCS worked on an investigation into a number of wildlife farms in Binh Duong province keeping wildlife for the pet trade.

●      Surveillance and intelligence was provided to local enforcement agencies and WCS worked alongside these agencies to confiscate wildlife such as gibbons, sika deer and peacocks.

●      This work often leads to fines of thousands of US dollars.

●      In December 2015 WCS provided evidence to local police in Ho Chi Minh City to investigate an illegal wildlife trafficker smuggling endangered animals such as tigers, oriental small clawed otters and black shanked doucs to sell to the pet trade in Vietnam. WCS conducted online monitoring of the sales of endangered wildlife and began physical surveillance to build a case against the individual. WCS worked with police to perform the crackdown. The individual was sentenced to five years imprisonment for their involvement.

Transnational crime

●      WCS conducted monitoring of cross border activities between the Vietnamese and Chinese border in Quang Ninh province in the north of Vietnam from 2010 - 2011. The monitoring included surveillance at a number of border points and well known smuggling routes between the two countries around the city of Mong Cai.

●      The study showed that the most commonly smuggled species in large quantities across the Vietnam-China border (based upon frequency of reports) are pangolins (live, frozen and de-scaled, scales), freshwater hard-shell and soft-shell turtles (live and shells), monitor lizard, snakes (cobra, rat snakes, python), elephant ivory, crocodiles, civets, large and medium-sized cats (e.g. clouded leopard, Asian golden cat, tiger), bear (live and paws), macaques, tokay gecko, rhino horn, and a number of species of bird (including but not restricted to herons and cranes). The list contains a number of species considered Endangered and Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List and those prohibited from trade under CITES e.g. pangolins, giant Asian pond turtle, Siamese crocodile, tiger, Asian black bear.

●      The investigation also exposed systemic bribery on the border. As a result of the investigation and this information the USA and UK embassies undertook investigations to confirm the results. Immediate site visits to the border were organised by the Prime Minister’s office, the police and the Supreme People’s Procuracy.

●      New barrier points were established along the Chinese border in an effort to stem the free flowing movement and criminals were arrested and prosecuted for the first time in Mong Cai relating to the trafficking of tiger products.

●      More information on the investigation can be found on our publications page

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