WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), the co-author of the END Wildlife Trafficking Act, applauded indictments of four members of a wildlife trafficking network brought by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Justice, and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The four men were charged last week for participating in conspiracy to traffic in rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory, in addition to intent to commit money laundering and intent to distribute more than 10 kilograms of heroin. This is the first time the U.S. Government has utilized the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act (P.L. 114-231) to charge money laundering for wildlife trafficking violations.  Senator Coons and then-Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)introduced the END Wildlife Trafficking Act in 2016 before it passed the Senate unanimously and was signed into law by President Obama.

“It’s a mistake to think about wildlife trafficking as just a conservation challenge when it increasingly involves heavily armed, well-organized, criminal networks that threaten the safety and development of communities,” Senator Coons said. “These indictments send an important message to wildlife traffickers around the world that the United States will not tolerate this international criminal activity.”

Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt said “Wildlife trafficking will not be tolerated. It is often intertwined with other major types of criminal activity including conspiracy, smuggling, money laundering and narcotics – all of which are included in the indictment today.  The U.S. Department of the Interior remains committed to combating the illegal wildlife trade through the END Wildlife Trafficking Act and the President’s Executive Order on Transnational Organized Crime.”

The END Wildlife Trafficking Act combats wildlife poaching and trafficking by strengthening domestic and global enforcement, reducing the demand for illegally traded wildlife, and working with international partners, local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade.