Convergence of wildlife crime with other forms of organised crime

Over the past two decades, wildlife crime has become a form of transnational organised crime, generating billions of dollars annually and affecting almost every country. As wildlife crime has increased in seriousness and profitability as a crime type, so too have reports of its convergence with other forms of organised crime. However, these reports have been mostly anecdotal, and the nature of this relationship is still largely undocumented.

Through its own investigations and intelligence analysis, the Wildlife Justice Commission has also collected evidence of criminal networks that are dealing in wildlife alongside other illicit commodities. This report aims to present some of these examples, along with information collected from open sources, to contribute to the knowledge base on this issue. It sets out 12 case studies that illustrate a range of converging crime types and typologies that have transpired in different regions of the world to increase the understanding of how these intersections can occur on the ground. The case studies include six cases involving the trafficking of terrestrial wild animals, three cases involving fisheries crimes, and three cases involving timber crimes (although they are collectively referred to as wildlife crime throughout the report).

Crime Convergence

The cases demonstrate that criminal groups may have a range of motivations to diversify their activities and engage in wildlife or other types of crime. Convergence can occur opportunistically on an ad hoc basis, as a complete “career shift” in response to changing conditions, or as part of a diversification strategy to increase profits across a range of illicit commodities. It can also occur transactionally when criminal groups in different markets exchange goods or services with each other or could be embedded to such an extent that the crimes are inextricably linked.

Wildlife crime is a cross-cutting criminal activity which cannot be tackled in isolation from other crimes.

Wildlife Justice Commission

Why is the Wildlife Justice Commission releasing this report?

Crime convergence should be further studied and integrated as part of the approach to tackle wildlife crime and organised crime more broadly, as improved understanding of this intersection can help to identify more strategic policy and law enforcement responses to address it.

This report offers a set of recommendations for law enforcement authorities and policy makers.