November 8, 2021
KINSHASA – Two Congolese traffickers were arrested in the United States and approximately $3.5 million worth of ivory, rhino horn, and pangolin scales seized on November 4th as the result of a 2+ year, multinational cooperative effort between the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to shut down a wildlife trafficking operation.
Late last week, a task force comprised of the law enforcement wing of the Congolese wildlife authority, l’Insitut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), the Congolese National Police (PNC), Interpol, and members of the Congolese military (FARDC) seized contraband related to wildlife trafficking from several stash houses in Kinshasa. The task force seized 2,067 pounds of ivory and 75 pounds of pangolin scales worth approximately $3.5 million. Congolese law enforcement and Embassy officials then worked together to secure appropriate storage at the Central Bank for the seized items.
This operation was conducted in the context of the U.S.-DRC Privileged Partnership for Peace, Prosperity and Preservation of the environment, through which both countries work together to promote effective governance, improve the rule of law, fight corruption and combat crime. As it pertains to this case, the United States Government, particularly working through the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, is assisting the DRC protect its natural resources for the benefit of the Congolese people and humanity.
“I applaud the determined action of our U.S.-DRC task force. This successful operation exemplifies the United States government’s concrete commitment to collaborate with Congolese law enforcement to combat illicit wildlife trafficking that robs the DRC of its natural treasures and also serves to finance armed groups and terrorists,” said Ambassador Mike Hammer. “We will continue to work together to thwart these nefarious actors and protect the Democratic Republic of Congo’s biodiversity.”
The United States supports President Felix Tshisekedi and the Congolese government’s stated priority to end corruption and impunity. To advance this common cause and continue to reduce the trafficking of wildlife products in the DRC and support global conservation efforts, the United States will continue to partner to increase the capacity of the DRC’s criminal justice system to investigate, arrest, and convict traffickers. This joint Congolese-U.S. operation is a big win that serves notice on those involved in wildlife trafficking or related illicit economic activities.