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Offender Motivation

Consistent with academic and expert literature, interviewees in all four locations identified financial reward as an important offender motivation (depending on where in the chain the offender was). However, when considering the purpose of the trade and types of consumers, explaining

Offenders involved in the IWT from source to destination countries the causes of IWT and motivations of offenders is more complex than might be assumed

Fig. 5.1 Offenders involved in the IWT from source to destination countries the causes of IWT and motivations of offenders is more complex than might be assumed (see Fig. 5.1 and Table 5.1). Evidence from UK and Norwegian enforcement agencies suggests that noncompliance (defined as failure to fully comply with regulations and policy requirements, typically a consequence of ignorance or administrative error rather than intentional offending)[1] accounts for a significant portion of their CITES seizures (e.g. tourists bringing back souvenirs/pets) and, as such, offenders are often treated leniently. While ignorance of the law excuses no one, CITES regulations and related policies are complex, change regularly, and include exemptions (tourists, for example, are permitted to bring objects which are ‘personal and household effects’ or small amounts of otherwise illegal products such as caviar [CITES 2016a; Interpol/IFAW 2013]) which may also contribute to noncompliance. The avian influenza outbreak is an example of where a clearly articulated message by the government (e.g. prohibiting the movement of birds), a well laid out process (enhanced detection and punishment), and strict adherence to procedure (in this case, limitations placed on the legal bird trade) marked a sustained decrease in the illegal bird trade to the UK and the EU more generally.

Evidently CITES is open to interpretation, which can cause confusion and create loopholes that attract organized criminals. One UK enforcement officer described what he saw as the gradual move, by some offenders, from ‘bending the rules’ in their legitimate businesses to engaging in more organized offences and illegitimate trade. These offenders did not perceive their actions as ‘really’ breaking the law. Such offending is facilitated by a skewed perception of IWT offences that enables criminals to minimize and justify their behaviour.

Interviewees distinguished collectors from other types ofoffenders, and an in-depth analysis of a penal case indicated addiction-like behaviour by one

Table 5.1 Offender motivation identified in the IWT in the case study locations

Norway

UK

Columbia/Brazil

Examples

Profit

Profit

Profit

Live animals, traditional medicine products

Cultural

Cultural

Cultural

Bones, bush meat, derivatives

Companion

Companion

Companion

Songbirds, parrots, reptiles

Consumption

Consumption

Consumption

Bush meat, turtles

Health

Health

Health

Rhino horn, leopard

Entertainment

Entertainment

Entertainment

Birds, primates

Beauty

Beauty

-

Caviar, furs

Luxury

Luxury

-

Caviar, furs, skins, rhino

Collection

Collection

-

Bird eggs, taxidermy

Souvenirs

Souvenirs

-

Turtle shell, ivory

Status

Status

-

Fur, taxidermy birds

-

-

Experimentation

Primates, reptiles

-

-

Biopiracy

Caged birds, reptiles

offender (Sollund 2015). While many ‘ordinary’ consumers engage in IWT, a large number of the police files in Norway that were analysed, coded as the illegal keeping of exotic species (the regulation under the Animal Welfare Act), indicated that reptiles were attractive to people involved in other serious crimes (e.g. violence and drugs) and that the conditions under which the animals were kept did not meet minimum welfare requirements (Table 5.1).

Trafficking in Colombia, where there is a long tradition of keeping wildlife as pets, was commonly identified as motivated by the desire for pets and food, especially widespread among the lower and rural strata of the population, large numbers of whom have moved into cities in recent decades. This urbanization, commonplace in Latin America, is transitioning ITW practices and creating new markets. White meat from sea mammals, turtles, and capybaras is trafficked in large quantities, principally for Easter, when red meat is forbidden. In London, the heart of the UK illegal bush meat trade, consumers are reportedly motivated by the desire to eat traditional or gourmet foods, which are often legally sourced in their native countries.

Traders and middlemen in source countries profit by bringing animals to city markets. In Bogota, frequent trafficking hotspots are Plaza de Restrepo, Corabastos (Colombia’s central market), and the pet shops of Caracas Street. Locals, often indigenous people, are the usual abductors, taking animals for small but necessary financial gain, not all of them needing encouragement by middlemen when they lack alternatives and a ready income. For Colombian police, receivers of animals at reception store houses make better targets for arrest. The middlemen (see Wyatt 2013) who travel to re-collect animals (by this stage these animals have been handled by up to seven individuals), are of particular interest. It is worth noting that buyers can commission purchases through catalogues, upon which middlemen will place an order, for an ocelot, for example. The abductors will then catch the animal for payment on delivery. This way the involved avoid the risk of losing the animal and being arrested in police raids. Night monkeys, extensively used in malaria research, were reportedly abducted to supply demand (Goyes 2015; Maldonado et al. 2009).

  • [1] This was apparent in the UK when interviewees explained the negative impact of what appearedto be a simple change to the CITES definition of ‘worked’ and ‘unworked’ specimens whichcaused widespread confusion among UK traders and enforcers alike; legitimate traders fearedinterpreting the new rules incorrectly, thereby losing their products or being convicted for aCITES offence, and enforcement agencies were uncertain what to enforce. Given the uncertaintyand levels of non-compliance, offenders could exploit this confusion as it made it more difficult toget a conviction should they be caught.
 
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