About 40 representatives of prosecutors and police from 17 countries in Latin America (LA), the European Union (EU), Europol and Interpol met in Mexico City for three days to reinforce the work of the networks that are confronting environmental crime issues in the two regions.
The EU’s Ambassador to Mexico, Gautier Mignot, opened the workshop by stating that “inter-institutional and international cooperation and collaboration are key to achieving sustainable and effective results in the fight against environmental crime and the protection of biodiversity”. In this regard, he added that “there are some key considerations, such as coordination and cooperation between police, prosecutors and all the institutions of the criminal chain as a whole, the awareness of citizens and the prevention and development of comprehensive public policies for the protection of the environment”.
In turn, Paulina Téllez, from the Support Unit for the Justice System of the Ministry of the Interior of Mexico, highlighted the importance of “learning and sharing with each other” to continue making progress in security and justice issues worldwide.
Roberto César Alfaro, of the National Guard of Mexico, also participated in the inauguration.
Coordination between prosecutors and police, a guarantee of success
The main objective of this workshop was to further the work being done by the Jaguar Network (the network of LA and EU police that has been promoted by EL PAcCTO and the EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats on Environmental Crime) and the Environmental Protection Network of the AIAMP Anti-Money Laundering Working Group. In addition, work objectives were defined for the coming months. Coordinating the work of prosecutors and police officers dealing with environmental crime across the two networks was also an important topic of debate.
Angely del Pilar Maíllo, of the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office and coordinator of the AIAMP Environmental Protection Network, expressed the need for the investigation and prosecution of this type of crime not to be confined to the national level. “Environmental crime crosses borders, involves several countries, and we must jointly coordinate our efforts.” According to the Colombian prosecutor, coordination between prosecutors and police will put an end to impunity and speed up investigations.
For his part, Miguel Angel Godoy, of the Seprona (Nature Protection Service) of the Spanish Guardia Civil, and coordinator of the Jaguar Network, stressed the importance of these networks being set up “to be a useful tool aimed at continuing the work already begun”, beyond just the people who will head the institutions in the future.
Two connected networks with the same objectives
According to Antonio Roma, coordinator of the EL PAcCTO Justice Systems component, “the two networks have taken a great step towards their consolidation and future projection. Not only because of the work they were already doing, but because this workshop has served to extend cooperation between network members and between the networks themselves”.
Pascal Benítez, coordinator of the Police Cooperation component, concluded that “the Jaguar Network is committed to strengthening inter-institutional cooperation by exchanging points of contact with the AIAMP network. In addition, a working group on mercury trafficking and money laundering linked to illegal gold mining will be launched”. During the workshop, it was also agreed to launch the first operation related to wildlife trafficking in cyberspace in 2022.
The two networks have been extremely active in recent years, and experts from LA and the EU have worked together in investigating and drawing up manuals that help specialists to deal more effectively with this type of crime. Some of the experts from Spain, Portugal and Colombia presented their work in the workshop so that the members of the network could familiarise themselves with and approve it. This work deals with illegal mining, investigation of environmental crime within the scope of the FOPREL (Forum of Presidents of Legislative Authorities of Central America and the Caribbean Basin), penalisation of environmental crime, environmental proof and examination of seized mercury.
The relationship between environmental crime and organised crime
Environmental crime represents the fourth most lucrative business in the world. Its relationship with organised crime is increasingly evident and EL PAcCTO has been working since 2018 to strengthen the institutions charged with fighting such crime. To this end, the Jaguar Network was set up, and we are working together with the AIAMP in Latin America (LA).
The main environmental crimes in LA can be grouped into:
- Illegal dumping
- Illegal mining
- Wildlife trafficking
- Illegal logging and deforestation
In the coming months, the European project EL PAcCTO will continue to work alongside the Jaguar Network and the AIAMP Environmental Protection Network to continue achieving international success. Protecting the planet is one of the priorities of the European Union and tackling environmental crime is one of the ways to achieve it.