U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, William Brownfield who heads the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) paid a visit to ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and the Thai Government on September 9, 2013 and gave clear and strong support for counter wildlife poaching and trafficking initiatives in Southeast Asia, including those developed under the USAID-sponsored ARREST Program. Brownfield was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenny as they visited the ASEAN-WEN Program Coordination Unit and the new Thai Department of National Parks and Wildlife and Plant Conservation Forensics center to review progress in combatting national and regional wildlife crime.
Dr. Theerapat Praruasiddhi thanked the US Government, including USAID and Freeland for their support in Thailand and for cross border cooperation, which has led to an increase in wildlife law enforcement, evidenced by samples of seized elephant ivory that were shown to US visitors. Speaking to Thai officials and media, Ambassador Brownfield thanked environmentalists from Thailand’s Government and NGO community, and “all conservationists across the world for the important work they have done for the past four decades in preserving wildlife and other natural resources. Two years ago,” he added, “governments, including Thailand and the United States, agreed that this issue is also a Law Enforcement issue.” Brownfield noted progress of the U.S.-supported law enforcement training programs and Special Investigation Group, which launched Operation Cobra earlier in 2013, and pledged further U.S. support for international wildlife law enforcement.