355 reptiles classified as endangered species valued at €800,000 have been rescued in an operation led by the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) of the Spanish Civil Guard with the active participation of the Rural Agents of Catalonia, EUROPOL and several European and Latin American countries through the Jaguar Network.
During the operation, 21 Spanish and British suspects were arrested and investigated. Among the reptiles protected by the CITES Convention were turtles valued at around €30,000, with weapons from the Second World War also confiscated. The protected animals came from countries in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
The suspects now under arrest brought the reptiles to Spain using carriers who transported them in their luggage so they could later be bred and traded illegally. In addition, they have been charged with crimes of document forgery that helped to hide the true origin of the animals.
International collaboration and cooperation: the key to success
The collaboration and investigative support of EUROPOL, a number of European countries such as Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden and various Latin American countries working through the Jaguar Network, including Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico, was essential for the success of the operation.
The Jaguar Network was set up in 2019 as a result of the cooperation and coordination between the European EL PAcCTO Programme, EMPACT, which is dedicated to fighting environmental crime and a number of EU Member States including Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.
The operation is part of the European Union Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking (2016-2020) and its Life Guardians of Nature project.