Lions and tigers and skulls, oh my

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  A New York has pleaded to buying endangered tiger and lion parts with the help of straw men and shipping the parts abroad.

Arongkron “Paul” Malasukum, of Woodside, pleaded Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, to wildlife trafficking in U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas in Plano.

According to the Department of Justice: 

In papers filed in federal court in April 2016, Malasukum admitted to purchasing a tiger skull from undercover agents who were working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Malasukum also admitted to purchasing lion skulls from an auction house in Texas through the undercover agents on another occasion. The agents were acting as “straw buyers” for Malasukum. Malasukum, who knew his out-of-state purchases could draw attention from federal law enforcement, gave the undercover agents cash and told them which items to bid on and ultimately win. After the purchases, Malasukum shipped the tiger and lion skulls from Texas to his home in Woodside, New York. From New York, Malasukum shipped the skulls to Thailand for sale to a wholesale buyer. 

As part of his plea, Malasukum admitted that between April 9, 2015 and June 29, 2016, he exported approximately 68 packages containing skulls, claws, and parts from endangered and protected species, with a total fair market value in excess of $150,000. All of the exports were sent to Thailand.

Nepal tiger investigations

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Nepal police seize tiger parts and arrest seven during intelligence-led actions
Jan. 23, 2013

KATHMANDU, Nepal – Nepalese authorities seized seven tiger skins, hundreds of tiger bones and arrested seven people in connection with an alleged smuggling ring during recent operations in the country, according to Interpol officials.

The Nepal Police and Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation of Nepal deployed forces on January 11 and 12 in different parts of the country. On the first day, officers of Manaslu Conservation Area seized two tiger skins, 53 kg of tiger bones and arrested four people who were allegedly trying to smuggle the tiger parts into Tibet, China. The following day, police conducting road checks near the Chinese border seized 5 tiger skins and 114 kg of tiger bones that were concealed in bags of rice in a van also heading to China, Interpol officials said.

Evidence gathered by police led them to suspect that the attempted smuggling incidents were part of a tiger parts smuggling ring, and the investigation is ongoing. In all, seven people have been arrested and charged with the illegal trade of tiger parts.

The arrests and seizures followed an Interpol training session on the use of intelligence and information management in combating environmental crime held in Nepal in December. The training, organized by Interpol, its National Central Bureau (NCB) in Kathmandu and the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN), aimed to improve environmental law enforcement capacity in the region, with a specific focus on illegal poaching and the illicit trade in tigers and other Asian big cats.

The training course and other initiatives to combat Asian big cat-related crimes occur under the auspices of Interpol’s Project Predator, which aims to reduce tiger crime by enhancing governance and law enforcement capacity in the tiger range countries. Partners include the US Agency for International Development (USAID), UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and SAWEN.

Big cats seized in Operation Predator

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INTERPOL operations in Asia lead to seizure of live tigers and other protected species

Dec. 5, 2012

LYON, France – The second and third phases of INTERPOL’s Operation Prey, targeting the illegal trade in wildlife and animal products, led to the seizure of 40 live tigers and tiger parts, along with other protected species and the arrest of more than a dozen individuals.

Carried out in September and October, Operation Prey II was conducted in Bangladesh, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, followed by Operation Prey III in Indonesia and Malaysia. Aside from tigers, authorities also seized pangolins, protected snakes and bushmeat.

Operation Prey is one of many initiatives under the framework of INTERPOL’s Project Predator.

With targeted Operation Prey enforcement actions, tiger range countries are better prepared to participate in future activities of Project Predator, INTERPOL officials said. This will be further strengthened by an upcoming training session in Nepal organized in collaboration with the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Kathmandu.

Due to the various uses of animals as status symbols or for their medicinal properties, many creatures are now on the brink of extinction. To avoid this irreversible situation, INTERPOL is calling for an adjustment in behaviour to restore the region’s economic, natural and social independence by stamping out demand and breaking the criminal supply chain of these illegal products.

Project Predator continues its work to protect the world’s wild tigers with the help of ongoing support from the US Agency for International Development and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.