A large network of Brazilians illegally trafficking in wild animals has been arrested. The network included smugglers, hunters, sellers, and middle men.
Though 72 have been arrested, 102 arrest warrants were issued and the investigation is ongoing. Federal police in Brazil used 450 agents in a coordinated sting operation. Several suspects may currently be in Europe. The police raid was the largest anti-animal trafficking effort in ten years there.
Up to 500,000 animals may have been sold by the illegal network each year. Some of the animals sold are endangered. Parrots, jaguars, snakes, deer, and monkeys were sold illegally. One thousand birds were confiscated from the traffickers. (Most were jungle birds).
Alexandre Saraiva, head of the police anti-wildlife smuggling unit in Rio described the situation: “Usually the animals sold were those that are most rare and in danger of extinction, like species of macaws and parrots.” Wild animals captured for sale and transportation usually die shortly afterwards. Police hope to reduce profits made by the traffickers to discourage their activities.
The South American nation is home to almost two thirds of the Amazon, which is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the entire world. Brazil has over 500 mammals, and over 600 endangered animals. Hunting is illegal there.