RALEIGH, N.C.- The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently worked with other state and federal agencies for a crackdown on illegal wildlife trade through the Internet.
Titled "Operation Wild Web," the ongoing investigation disrupted Internet-based trafficking of wildlife species in violation of state, federal and international laws. Cases involved the unlawful sale of protected species, businesses operating without licenses, and illegal fishing and hunting violations.
In total, among all participating states, the operation resulted in 62 arrests.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Law Enforcement, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission joined together in the investigation.
Legitimate businesses that follow wildlife laws are safe for the public and conservation. However, Operation Wild Web uncovered many individuals and businesses operating illegally.
The Special Investigations Unit of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission made seven arrests for illegal activities. Commission wildlife officers also assisted more than a dozen vendors either to gain compliance for legal transactions or avoid criminal activity.
"Some people may think operating online is a way to get away with taking advantage of protected species," said Lt. George Wilson, leader of Florida's Internet Crimes Unit. "But we are dedicated to working with our partners to stop these illegal activities. The teamwork among agencies for Operation Wild Web really made this a success."
The public can report wildlife violations in North Carolina anytime by calling 1-800-662-7137. Callers can remain anonymous.
About the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state's fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. The Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities. To learn more, visit www.ncwildlife.org.
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