Crime Fighters Recognized for Tackling Illegal Trade in Wildlife, Chemicals and Waste


Five enforcement officers and eight organizations tackling fast-growing illegal trade in wildlife, chemicals and waste in Asia Pacific are the first recipients of the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award announced here today.

The winners, hailing from Cambodia, China, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam and Tonga, were awarded for their efforts in confiscating nearly US$69 million in illegal contraband, logs and wood charcoal, and seizures of nearly 300,000 tons of hazardous waste, wildlife products and timber like the Indian Red Sanders, a wood popularly used for idols and wooden artifacts. Investigations into these crimes have resulted in nearly US$40 million in fines and more than US$100 million in frozen assets.

Illegal trade in wildlife, waste and chemicals, unregulated and unreported fishing as well as illicit trade in timber, because of the low risk of detection and scarce conviction rates, is highly lucrative. Global illegal wildlife trade is worth between US$48 to US$153 billion annually, while illegal waste trade is estimated to be worth US$12 billion worldwide.

“Environment crime has the potential to undermine sustainable development. It is not only a threat to species, to habitats and to ecosystems, but also to human health, livelihoods and national economies.  Enforcement action and efforts need to be recognized and awarded,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and United Nations Under-Secretary-General who opened the award ceremony.”

The Asia Environmental Enforcement Award is a joint initiative of UNEP and Freeland, and is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Freeland is proud to be a part of the new Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards,” says Steven Galster, Freeland’s Executive Director. “But most of all, we are proud of the award winners, who have gone above and beyond their call of duty and achieved magnificent results in the fight against environmental crime.”

The Enforcement Handbook on Controlling of Illegal Trade in Chemicals and Wastes for Asian Environment Enforcement Officers was also launched during the ceremony.

Award winners include:

Individual Category

Major Nicomedes Petallo Enad, Special Police Major, Environmental Protection Unit (EPU), Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs, Philippines. For his leadership in the successful apprehension and seizure of shipments in violation of environmental laws and regulation in the Philippines.

Wang Liang, Intelligence Analyst, World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific, Philippines. For his role in several successful regional and global enforcement operations which led to, for example,  the seizure of thousands of tons of illegal hazardous wastes, used vehicle parts and tires, textiles and e-waste.

Police Senior Superintendent Osmundo Dupagan Salibo, Chief, Philippine National Police Maritime Group Special Boat Unit, Philippines. For leading the confiscation of endangered wildlife including nearly 900 turtles and more than 9,000 marine turtle eggs in 2013 and 2014.

Police Senior Superintendent Jonathan Viernes Ablang, Deputy Director for Operations, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Special Boat Unit, Philippines. For promoting the establishment of Marine Protected Areas, recruitment and training of 679 local community Marine Protected Area guards. He set up an SMS public hotline that led to the arrest of thousands of suspects for illegal fishing and pollution.

Do Thanh Quang, Manager, Tan Son Nhat International Airport Customs Branch, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. For tackling wildlife trafficking in one of the world’s biggest environmental crime hotspots that led to the seizure of ivory worth US$830,000. 

Organization Category

Anti-Money Laundering Office, Thailand. For the significant role they played in targeting criminal rings trading in protected wildlife and timber by seizing the equivalent of US$39.4 million in assets.

Nanjing Customs District, People’s Republic of China. For eradicating 3 criminal syndicates dealing in illegal waste trade, arresting over 150 suspects and seizing more than 200,000 tons of waste.

Tonga Ministry of Revenue and Customs, Tonga. Seizure of 30 cylinders of ozone-depleting Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) R-22.

Philippine National Police – Maritime Group, Philippines. For conducting more than 1,500 operations against violations of the fisheries, forestry and wildlife laws that led to the seizure of endangered aquatic species, nearly 9,000 arrests and collection of fines worth more than US$ 300,000.

Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team, Cambodian Forestry Administration, Royal Gendarmerie Khmer, and Wildlife Alliance, Cambodia. For rescuing more than 60,000 live endangered animals and confiscating 30 tons of wildlife products.

Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), India. For the successful enforcement operations that led to the seizure of 845 tons of the endangered and very popular Red Sanders wood, and 45,790 cylinders of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Environmental Protection Unit, Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs, Philippines. For the seizure of 90 container vans illegally transporting chemicals, chemical products and water materials.

World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific. For pioneering a regional enforcement mechanism that shares intelligence leading to the seizure of large quantities of illegal hazardous waste, chemicals and wildlife across Asia Pacific.

For more information, please contact:

Matthew Pritchett, Director of Communications, Freeland,
+66 2 254 8321 ext 121

Satwant Kaur
Regional Information Officer
UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
+66 (0) 2 2882127