Brazil Cracking Down on Illegal Animal Trade Through Social Media

On June 5, Ibama, the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, announced an operation taking place in 15 of its states to combat the illegal trafficking of wild animals through social media outlets. Dubbed operation Teia, the effort includes Ibama as well as the Federal Police, Federal Highway Police, and state police. The operation took place in the states of Amazonas, Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraíba, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, Sergipe and São Paulo. Targets were chosen after an investigation in 2017 identified 1277 animals available for sale on the internet.

The operation served 34 search warrants, detained 12 people, imposed fines of over 518.6 thousand Brazilian Real (which translates to approximately $140,000), and rescued 137 animals in its initial days. Brazilian native snakes, jabutis (tortoise), lizards, alligators, monkeys, iguanas, scorpions and spiders, among others were rescued; additionally, exotic species like the corn snake, python, pogona (bearded dragon), and tiger were also seized. The wild animals that are native to Brazil will be evaluated to determine if they can be released back into the wild. The exotic species will be sent to zoos that have appropriate security to ensure that they cannot escape and cause a problem with national biodiversity.

According to a press conference on June 5, the operation will continue indefinitely. Facebook was named as one of the networking sites being used for the illegal trade. Officials said that Facebook control policies were not effective in curbing this illegal activity. Officials also noted that 30 animals had already been sold through networking sites.

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