“We estimate that the United States government will fund more than $90 million in counter-wildlife trafficking programs and projects in the coming year, including our criminal investigatory and prosecution efforts,” Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood told attendees of INTERPOL’s 29th Wildlife Crime Working Group meeting in London on Monday.
Since the start of the Trump administration, the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division has convicted more than 30 defendants for wildlife trafficking crimes, and has charged another 25.
According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, the illegal wildlife trade has reached $23 billion annually. A kilogram of rhino horn, for example, can sell for as much as $70,000 in Asian markets.
Since 2014, the United States has spent more than $370 million on wildlife trafficking enforcement. In 2016, Congress passed the END Wildlife Trafficking Act to further strengthen coordination among federal agencies, the same year the U.S. imposed a near-total ban on the African elephant ivory trade.
The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, NAFTA's pending successor, includes “the strongest provisions to combat wildlife trafficking of any trade agreement in history,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in prepared remarks to the INTERPOL working group.
“We will continue to engage the private sector, especially the technology sector, to reduce online/cyber sales of illicit wildlife and with the transportation sector to stop the illegal shipment of illicit wildlife,” Sessions said. “We will seek to change consumer behavior at home and abroad about illegal wildlife products, to seize proceeds of illegal wildlife trafficking — and to use our diplomatic outreach to foster greater international cooperation in this arena.”