A highly coordinated international operation targeting the illegal trade in reptiles has resulted in the largest reptile bust to date. Coordinated by Interpol and Europol, “Operation Blizzard” (April 12–May 22) involved law enforcement agencies from 22 countries, including the United States. Some 4,400 live reptiles were seized and 12 arrests have been made thus far out of nearly 200 suspects identified.
The live reptiles seized included 20 crocodiles and alligators, 2,700 turtles and tortoises, and 1,500 snakes, lizards, and geckos. In addition to the live reptiles, officials seized a number of live parrots, owls, falcons, and swans, as well as elephant ivory, bush meat, and products derived from reptiles.
Dylan Swain, principal compliance officer with the New Zealand Department of Conservation, quoted in Interpol’s official release, stated that “‘Operation Blizzard clearly demonstrates that by pooling our enforcement and intelligence resources, the enforcement community firmly contributes to disrupting this destructive trade in reptiles. This operation is testimony to what can be achieved if we all work together.’”