Thousands of endangered animals seized in customs operation

PARIS (AP) — A global joint-operation against wildlife smuggling has resulted in the seizure of thousands of endangered animals and huge quantities of ivory.

The World Customs Organization and Interpol said they conducted 1,828 seizures across 109 countries in June and seized nearly 10,000 live turtles and tortoises, 23 live apes, 30 live big cats, hundreds of pieces of elephant tusk, half a ton of ivory and five rhino horns.

The WCO said Wednesday the joint operation led to the identification of almost 600 suspects and triggered arrests worldwide, including 21 in Spain.

Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock said "wildlife crime not only strips our environment of its resources, it also has an impact through the associated violence, money laundering and fraud."

The operation — named Thunderball — was based in Interpol's Singapore innovation complex.