Regional Combating Wildlife Trafficking Program

ABA ROLI Expert, Tania Montoya, conducting interviews with Guatemalan government officials as part of our assessment in November 2019.

ABA ROLI Expert, Tania Montoya, conducting interviews with Guatemalan government officials as part of our assessment in November 2019.

Wildlife trafficking and related criminal activity fuels corruption, destabilizes vulnerable populations, and directly funds transnational criminal organizations. Traffickers frequently exploit weakly enforced borders and government bureaucracy to profit from commerce in protected wildlife, timber, and fish as part of a broader criminal enterprise that may include trafficking in persons, drugs, or other illicit goods. 

ABA ROLI works to combat this criminal phenomenon in two strategic areas in Latin America and the Caribbean: the Andean region of Bolivia and Peru and the Guatemalan rainforest on the fringe of the Northern Triangle region. 

Beginning in 2019, our program, Strengthening Capacity and Commitment to Combat Wildlife Trafficking in Latin America, intends to enhance wildlife-related legislative and regulatory frameworks and build the capacity of civilian and law enforcement and justice sector authorities to prevent, investigate and prosecute wildlife trafficking. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs through the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The Combat Wildlife Trafficking (CWT) in Latin America Program aims to:

  1. Strengthen capacity to combat wildlife trafficking (WT);  
  2. Increase understanding of legislation, investigation and prosecution of WT;   
  3. Enhance commitment and a consolidated response among key stakeholders;
  4. Promote increased collaboration between prosecutors, police, and government officials;  

The program seeks to achieve these objectives by:

Analyzing the nexus between wildlife trafficking and transnational crime

Alongside local legal exports, ABA ROLI conducted a Mesoamerican and Andean regional assessment to analyze the use of ancillary legislation—that is, laws criminalizing similar activity which may have overlapping elements—as a potential strategy for governments to charge and convict traffickers using higher penalties, and thus serve as a more effective deterrent to wildlife trafficking and related crimes. In addition to ancillary legislation, the group also analyzed the investigation of transnational organized crimes, and the prosecution of related illicit activities to respond to wildlife crimes. The findings from this assessment will inform three binational training sessions, and a legal reference toolkit for prosecutors.

Increasing capacity for prosecution of wildlife trafficking

Through this program, ABA ROLI will develop a countering wildlife trafficking curriculum for three binational prosecutorial training sessions for trainees in Belize, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru. ABA ROLI will host three binational training sessions drawing on the findings of the previous assessments to train justice sector officials and prosecutors on legal tools, forensic techniques, and binational and regional treaties. This work aims to improve the rule of law by enhancing governments’ capacity to prosecute transnational organized crimes, and to respond to wildlife trafficking cases across Mesoamerica and the Andean Region. 

ABA ROLI will develop a countering wildlife trafficking curriculum for trainees in Belize, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru.

ABA ROLI will develop a countering wildlife trafficking curriculum for trainees in Belize, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru.