Crime Fighters Recognized for Tackling Illegal Trade in Wildlife, Chemicals and Waste
22 May 2015
Bangkok, 20 May 2015: 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 (AEEA) announced here today.
The winners, hailing from Cambodia, China, India, Philippines, Thailand, Tonga, and Viet Nam, 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 is highly lucrative because of the low risk of detection and scarce conviction rates. Global illegal wildlife trade is worth between US$48-US$153 billion annually, while illegal waste trade is estimated to be worth US$12 billion worldwide.
“Environment crime undermines 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.

Award winners include:
Major Nicomedes Petallo Enad, Chief/ Special Police Major, Environmental Protection Unit, Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs, Philippines (Winner Profile)
  • For initiating the establishment of the Environmental Protection Unit of the Enforcement and Security Service, now a powerful arm of the Bureau of Customs combating smuggling and illegal trade, including chemicals and wildlife, which led to the seizure of shipments in violation of environmental laws and regulations in the Philippines
Wang Liang, Intelligence Analyst, World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific (Winner Profile
  • For his role in several successful regional and global enforcement operations which led to the seizure of thousands of tons of illegal hazardous waste, used vehicle parts and tires, textiles and e-waste
Police Superintendent Osmundo Dupagan Salibo, Chief, Philippine National Police Maritime Group Special Boat Unit, Philippines (Winner Profile
  • For leading the confiscation of large amounts of endangered wildlife including nearly 900 turtles and more than 9,000 marine turtle eggs
Police Senior Superintendent Jonathan Viernes V. Ablang, Deputy Director for Operations, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Philippines (Winner Profile)
  • For promoting the establishment of Marine Protected Areas and 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 (Winner Profile)
  • 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
Anti-Money Laundering Office, Thailand (Winner Profile)
  • For its significant role in targeting criminal rings trading in protected wildlife and timber, seizing the equivalent of US$39.4 million in assets
Nanjing Customs District, People’s Republic of China (Winner Profile)
  • For eradicating 31 criminal syndicates involved in the illegal waste trade, arresting over 150 suspects and seizing more than 200,000 tons of waste
Ministry of Revenue and Customs, Kingdom of Tonga (Winner Profile)
  • For contributing significantly to the country’s global commitment to phasing out ozone-depleting substances, including the seizure of 30 cylinders of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22
Philippine National Police – Maritime Group, Philippines (Winner Profile)
  • For conducting more than 1,500 operations against violation of fisheries, forestry and wildlife laws, leading to the seizure of endangered aquatic species, nearly 9,000 arrests and collection of fines worth more than US$ 300,000
Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team, Cambodian Forestry Administration, Royal Gendarmerie Khmer and Wildlife Alliance, Cambodia (Winner Profile)
  • For significantly disrupting the wildlife trade in the country, rescuing more than 60,000 live endangered animals and confiscating 30 tons of wildlife products
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), India (Winner Profile)
  • For successful enforcement operations that led to the seizure of 845 tons of  endangered and much-smuggled Indian Red Sanders wood, and 45,790 cylinders of ozone-depleting chemicals
Environmental Protection Unit, Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs, Philippines (Winner Profile)
  • For the seizure of 90 container vans that were illegally transporting chemicals, chemical products and waste materials
World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific (Winner Profile)
  • 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
The AEEA is a joint initiative of UNEP and Freeland, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to encourage countries, organizations and individuals in the region to combat environmental crime and to reward excellence in enforcement.
“Freeland is proud to be a part of the new AEEA Awards,” said 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 AEEA ceremony was held back-to-back with the Asia-Pacific Roundtable on Environmental Rule of Law for Sustainable Development that opened today on the margin of the First Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific.