Colombia launches strategy to tackle environmental crime

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s national police have deployed 100 criminal intelligence and investigation officers as part of a strategy to tackle environmental crime in the Andean nation, the government said on Monday, citing mining Illegality and animal trafficking are among the most serious threats.

Fifty officers will investigate environmental crimes while 40 will work on intelligence gathering. The remaining 10 will oversee websites, including social media, for wildlife trade and sale.

“Environmental crime doesn’t just affect Colombia’s heritage… the environment is the heritage of all humanity,” Brigadier General Jesus Alejandro Barrera, Colombia’s rural police chief, told journalists.

Colombia, one of the world’s most biodiverse countries with tens of thousands of species of flora and fauna, is beset by crimes that harm the environment, including deforestation, illegal logging, theft. oil from pipelines and the animal and plant trade.

In 2020, about 171,685 hectares (424,000 acres) in Colombia was deforested, mostly in the Amazon region, an increase of 8% from the level of destruction recorded in 2019.

The main causes of deforestation are widespread cattle ranching, the cultivation of coca crops, the main ingredient in cocaine and illegal mining, the government said.

The wildlife trade is also a big problem. Last week, two German nationals were caught red-handed hundreds-arachnids-being-illearies-smuggled-europe-2021-12-02 trying to bring hundreds of spiders out of the Country.

So far in 2021, authorities have seized 5,801 birds, 2,472 mammals, 11,290 reptiles and 285,237 plant specimens, according to police statistics.

The Colombian Ministry of Environment will launch a new page on its website to stay in touch with environmentalists, whose work puts them at risk of being killed, Environment Minister Carlos Correa added.

The government recognizes the killing of eight environmentalists between 2018 and 2020, based on UN figures. But the advocacy group Global Witness recorded 65 such homicides in the last year alone, making it the second year in a row that Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for environmentalists.

The government accuses illegal armed groups of committing environmental crimes and killing environmental leaders.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by David Gregorio) Colombia launches strategy to tackle environmental crime


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