Watch: UAE jointly seizes $32 million-worth illegal items in major overseas operation

The Green Justice operation primarily targeted the network of environmental criminal activities in the Amazon region

By Wam

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Published: Sat 6 Jul 2024, 5:07 PM

Last updated: Sat 6 Jul 2024, 11:09 PM

The UAE, in a joint operation with other countries and international authorities seized illegal items that have been valued at over $32 million, and arrested 25 suspects across the region.

This operation, named 'Green Justice', dealt a significant blow to organized crime groups by seizing 2.4 tonnes of illegal wildlife and fish catches, 37 illegal fishing equipment, 229 pieces of illegal mining equipment, and over 10,498 cubic meters of illegally harvested timber.

Coordinated by the International Law Enforcement for Climate Initiative (I2LEC), the regional law enforcement operation has uncovered extensive environmental crimes in the Amazon region.

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The 'Green Justice' operation received support and participation from law enforcement agencies in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia, alongside the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). It primarily targeted the regional network of environmental criminal activities in the Amazon region.

The joint operation took place from June 24 to June 30, 2024, coordinated and planned by the I2LEC initiative, a UAE Ministry of Interior initiative, to gather intelligence enabling thorough investigations into transnational environmental crime networks. This tri-border corridor within the Amazon rainforest, where Colombia, Peru, and Brazil converge, has faced challenges from criminal activities like illegal goods smuggling, wildlife poaching, deforestation, and illegal mining.

The operation also resulted in the seizure of various smuggled materials used in committing these environmental crimes.

Lt. Col. Dana Al Marzouqi, Director General of the Office of International Affairs and coordinator of the I2LEC initiative at the UAE Ministry of Interior, stated, "As the initiative’s coordinator, I feel proud to witness the realisation of our vision on the ground, which has been embodied in a coordinated global response to environmental crimes and its participation at COP events, holding dozens of trainings. I2LEC is serious about its work to support future operations and empower law enforcement agencies around the world to protect their precious natural resources.

"In addition, the results obtained in the Green Justice operation have been added to a heat map of environmental crimes and the results will be analysed using artificial intelligence. It is worth noting that the environmental crimes that were monitored are considered among the major crimes linked to other crimes, such as money laundering."

Environmental crimes detected are core offences linked to other secondary crimes, such as money laundering.

Brazilian Federal Police Commissioner Fabio Mertens, Deputy Director of International Cooperation, said, "The positive impact of the 'Green Justice' operation in combating environmental crimes in the Amazon is invaluable. In addition to the significant deterrent results, the coordinated efforts between Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and the UAE, under the I2LEC initiative, mark a pivotal moment in preserving the environment and curbing illegal activities in the region."

He added, "We are confident that the success of 'Green Justice' is just the beginning of a long-term series of operations targeting transnational environmental crimes in the Amazon."

General Gregorio Martin Villalon Trillo, Head of the Environmental Directorate of the National Police in Peru, expressed his gratitude to all dedicated law enforcement officers whose relentless efforts made the 'Green Justice' operation successful. He emphasized that their professionalism and operational efficiency, under the I2LEC initiative's leadership, led to exceptional success.

He added that such actions represent initial steps in our ongoing commitment to protecting the Amazon and affirm our dedication to preserving the planet's invaluable natural treasures, paving the way for a more sustainable future.

Brigadier William Castano from Colombia, Director of the Gendarmerie police environmental protection department, added, "Operation Green Justice is a testament to the power of international collaboration in addressing urgent environmental challenges. Colombia is proud to have played an important part in stopping criminal activities at one of the busiest border crossings in the Amazon Basin. Thanks to I2LEC’s vision and coordination, we have taken a significant step forward in raising environmental protection in the three-way border passage threatened by local criminal networks for years."

More seizures of illegal materials and arrests are expected as part of ongoing investigations and coordination among the operation's participants. These efforts mark the beginning of a long-term global endeavour to combat environmental crimes in one of the world's most vital ecological arteries.

Launched in 2023 by the UAE Ministry of Interior, in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the International Law Enforcement for Climate Initiative is a global platform aimed at raising awareness, building capacity, and conducting research on crimes impacting the environment and climate change.


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