Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has congratulated Europol and law enforcement agencies across the EU for conducting the biggest ever international operation against the illegal wildlife trade.
Operation COBRA III led to the recovery of over 12 tonnes of elephant ivory and at least 119 rhino horns, and saw the participation of law enforcement teams and agencies from 62 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and America.
Seizures inside the EU included 10,000 dead seahorses and 400 live turtles/tortoises in the UK, 50 kg of animal parts (including heads and horns) in Spain, 500 kg of frozen eel in Poland, 16 whale ribs in the Netherlands and 50 kg of raw ivory in France.
Catherine Bearder, founder of the MEPs for Wildlife group in the European Parliament which is pushing for an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Crime, commented:
"I would like to congratulate law enforcement agencies across Europe, who have shown what can be achieved when countries work together in the fight against wildlife crime.
"This sends a clear message to those involved in the illegal wildlife trade that they will face the full force of the law.
"It is important that the judiciary now hands down sentences that match the gravity of these crimes.
"There must also be coordinated efforts across the EU to crack down on the organised crime bosses running this cruel trade, not just the smugglers on the ground."