Illegal Wildlife Trafficking is now estimated at a $7Billion a year business funding terrorism. It is time for Congress to add Wildlife Trafficking as a Racketeering Activity to RICO Laws- 18USC1961. This should be an easy bi-partisan passage, start the new 114 Congress on a positive note, and respond to the call of action by the American public to protect the endangered animals of Africa from extinction and removing financing from terrorist.
The recent arrest of two brothers in Alabama for illegal trophy hunting solicitations and the crushing of 1,200,000 pounds of ivory in the US show the need for increased deterrence to save these animals from extinction in the wild and the US demand does have an impact on the dwindling populations of African Animals.
The problem is severe. The elephant population is estimated at 400,000 and declining at 35,000 per year. The rhino population is estimated at 30,000 and declining at 1,000 per year.
Given that the Elephant is the symbol of the GOP and often moderate GOP members are called RINOs (Republican in Name Only) saving these two animals should be a priority.
The legislation would also benefit other endangered animals.
RICO short for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ACT gives federal prosecutors powerful tools to target groups of criminals by establishing severe consequences not just for low-level conspirators but for the insulated leaders.
RICO would make it easier to prosecute multiple defendants at once; easier to prove the existence of an “association”; and allows for the prosecution at all levels of criminal activity from importers to money launderers – in a single case.
Today Wildlife Trafficking is a low-risk, high-profit crime. Defendants convicted of violating RICO face a $25,000 fine for each offense and a prison sentence of up to twenty years. The government can seize property and freeze assets before the case goes to trial.
Because the fines and forfeiture are severe, RICO would take the profit out of Wildlife Trafficking and answer the call of the American Public for legislative action to save these wonderful animals. Both parties should support this action wholeheartedly.