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Malaysia is a hub for a multi-billion-ringgit …

Mon, Aug 10, 2009
The Star/Asia News Network
Malaysia is a hub for a multi-billion-ringgit global trade in illegal wildlife

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – A former wildlife smuggler has, in a rare interview, talked about his arrest for the illegal trafficking of animals following a sting operation set up by the US authorities.

Nicknamed the ‘Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade’ after the Colombian drug lord, Penangite Anson Wong Keng Lian was convicted of trafficking in highly-endangered species by the US government in 2001 after a three-year probe by its Fish and Wildlife Services.

He was sentenced to 71 months in jail.

Wong’s illicit operations then was part of the worldwide illegal wildlife trade that Interpol estimated to be worth billions of dollars a year.

The smuggling of wildlife and animal parts is so lucrative that it is second only to drug trafficking.

Interpol estimates that illegal wildlife trade worldwide is worth US$10bil (S$14.8bil) to US$20bil (S$28.8bil) a year.

Consignments of live animals and body parts worth millions of ringgit have slipped through Malaysia undetected.

Malaysia’s porous borders and unguarded shorelines make the country an ideal transit point for wildlife smuggling.

Animal traffickers are not deterred by low fines and short jail terms.

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