From November 27 to December 9, as part of the USAID-supported Asia's Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program, Freeland provided a two-part wildlife trafficking investigation training course for law enforcement officials from Laos and Thailand.
The ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) Nature Crime Investigator course included a basic and an advanced course for forestry officials, environmental police and prosecutors from both countries. The participants were given real-life, criminal trafficking scenarios, which included simulations of poaching and trafficking of tigers, pangolins and other endangered species.
Officers received instruction on how to detect, surveil and apprehend individual criminals and syndicates. Wildlife trafficking syndicates operating across the borders of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam have traditionally smuggled endangered species across the Mekong along a variety of secret routes on their way to black markets where the animals, usually cut up into body parts, are sold.
Since the launch of ASEAN-WEN in 2005, law enforcement officials have had a 10-fold increase in interceptions of wildlife trafficking, but major wildlife traffickers are still at large.
Source: USAID/RDMA Regional Environment Office Weekly Update