November 25, 2014 – Vietnam’s National Environmental Police are on the look out for a wildlife trafficking kingpin after raiding a secret warehouse where over 1,000 endangered sea turtles were being processed for export to China. The local conservationists who tipped off police believe that thousands of marine turtles poached from Southeast Asian waters have been smuggled by the syndicate for years and that the “powerful kingpin” will be a challenge to prosecute.
Dead Marine Turtles Seized in Nha Trang City, Vietnam
The raids on November 19th in Nha Trang City of Khanh Hoa province, were conducted by National Environmental Police officers following tip offs about three warehouses suspected of keeping large stocks of illegally imported, endangered marine turtles. The Vietnamese wildlife conservation group Education for NatureVietnam (ENV) had provided the tip-off.
Dead Marine Turtles Seized after a Secret Raid by Vietnam’s National Environmental Police
ENV Director Nguyen Phuong Dung praised the efforts of the Environmental Police on their outstanding work. “Their responsiveness was critical to the successful outcome, which is a positive indicator of Vietnam’s determination and commitment to the protection of endangered species.” However, she cautions, “the excellent work of law enforcement must be reinforced by the courts as well. They need to send the message that Vietnam is serious about prosecuting and punishing even rich and influential figures when they commit crimes.”
Marine turtles are fully protected under Vietnam’s Decree 160 (2014) and hunting and trading of the five marine turtles is a criminal offense.
This is a landmark case for Vietnam, demonstrating that cooperation between governments, civil groups and non government organizations can be highly successful and become a model example for other countries to follow in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking in the region.