International Investigator Training Targets Wildlife Trafficking Hotspot


Investigators inspect a bag of wildlife contraband during a training scenario.

Investigators inspect a bag of wildlife contraband during a training scenario.

Law enforcement officers from Lao PDR and Thailand are now better equipped to stop wildlife trafficking after undergoing joint training at a major endangered species smuggling corridor.

Twenty-six law enforcement investigators including customs, police, wildlife officers and prosecutors attended the training, which provided the participants from Lao PDR’s Department of Forestry Inspection with their first advanced investigations course. The U.S.-supported training developed the capacity of the officers to investigate organized criminal groups engaged in natural resource and wildlife crime.

Conducted in the Thai border town of Nong Khai, the course focused on investigation techniques to detect ongoing wildlife trafficking between Thailand and Lao PDR, a major route common for wild animals and wildlife products being smuggled to destinations in China and Vietnam from other parts of Asia and as far away as Africa.

Organized criminal syndicates behind the illicit wildlife trade are taking advantage of porous borders, weak laws and understaffed law enforcement in the area to profit from the exploitation of rare and protected wildlife. The training was also designed to improve enforcement collaboration between the two countries, which are both members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network.

The investigator training was co-funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the Blue Moon Fund, and conducted by Freeland, a Bangkok-based, counter-trafficking organization that trains governments to combat wildlife trafficking. Freeland implemented the training as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program, the U.S. Government’s largest counter wildlife trafficking activity that works in to protect the rich wildlife and biodiversity of Southeast Asia.

The course was sponsored by and conducted jointly with the U.S. Government as part of its efforts to help reduce wildlife crime around the world by increasing the effectiveness of law enforcement in detecting, investigating, apprehending and prosecuting leaders and organizers of syndicates trafficking in protected wildlife.

For more information and more photos, please contact:

For more information and photos, please contact:
Matthew Pritchett, Director of Communications, Freeland,
+66 2 254 8321 ext 121

Note to editor:
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) – The mission of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the U.S. Department of State is to minimize the impact of international crime and illegal drugs on the United States and its citizens through providing effective foreign assistance and through fostering global cooperation.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent U.S. Government Agency that operates under the foreign policy direction of the U.S. Secretary of State. Following 50 years of improving lives through development and humanitarian assistance, USAID is the principal U.S. Government development agency partnering with countries throughout the world to promote peace, prosperity, and security. Please visit or follow and Twitter at @USAIDAsia for more information.

Freeland is a frontline counter-trafficking organization working for a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Our team of law enforcement, development and communications specialists work alongside partners in Asia, Africa and the Americas to build capacity, raise awareness, strengthen networks and promote good governance to protect critical ecosystems and vulnerable people. Freeland is alsothe lead implementing partner of “ARREST”, the U.S. Government’s largest counter-wildlife trafficking program, which is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more info, visit also; follow Freeland on twitter @FREELANDpeople or