Tag Archives: Maghreb

Europol: Spain exotic birds traffickers arrests

Police have recovered 280 exotic birds, valued at over one million euros, among which featured macaws, parrots and cockatoos, all of which are endangered species protected by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). These birds were destined to be sold to North African countries – Morocco in particular, where the demand for them is high.

Codenamed ‘ORATIX’, this operation took place earlier this year in February and March in the Spanish cities of Malaga, Murcia, Granada, Alicante and Asturias.

The investigation initiated in 2019 uncovered how this criminal group would sell these endangered species to North African buyers using forged documents. The criminals would then arrange for the birds to be smuggled out of Spain hidden in buses heading to the African continent. The traffickers were supported by a Moroccan citizen who worked in a travel agency and arranged the logistics. They also developed their illegal business online, where they would sell birds but never deliver them, despite the buyers having paid for them. In addition, over 400 marijuana plants were discovered during the house searches, indicating that this group of traffickers was involved in a variety of criminal activities.

Europol supported this investigation from its on-set, providing operational and strategic analysis and piecing together evidence to identify the route used by the smugglers. One of its experts was also deployed on-the-spot in Spain to assist the law enforcement authorities with the cross-checking of information against Europol’s databases.

It is believed that parrot smuggling worldwide is on the rise. Some species can reach several hundreds of thousands of euros on the black market. The demand driving this illicit trade comes from collectors and breeders, but also citizens who want them as pets. However, this desire to own such exotic birds is killing them off.

A number of parrot species are threatened with extinction due in part to pressures from collecting for the pet trade. There is however legal protection in place. All but two parrot species are protected under CITES, as a result of which their commercial trade is either prohibited or strictly regulated with export permits.

With dedicated staff working on environmental crime, Europol supports EU Member States in their investigations to stop criminals damaging our ecosystems beyond repair.

Mogherini for “open new avenues” in Mediterranean

The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini calls Mediterranean countries to work together on issues of migration: “we share a challenge and we can only solve and address this phenomenon if we take a cooperative approach based on partnership among equals”.

“…What happens around the Mediterranean and in the Mediterranean matters to the whole of Europe and not just to the countries that are around the coasts of our common sea.

“It is not just about migration – it made itself evident that we need to come together to manage the phenomenon -, it is also about security; about economic development; about climate change..”

“…Some of us have experienced war inside their countries or at their borders and we have all seen how difficult a transition can be – be it a transition from war to an inclusive peaceful reconciliation and the building of state institutions or be it from a war economy to a solid peace economy. These trends have fostered migration from our countries, through our countries and towards our countries.”

“.. I believe that it is high-time today to try to find and open new avenues of cooperation across the Southern shore of the Mediterranean, in particular in the Maghreb, as a win-win exercise, starting on practical matters” – Mogherini concluded.

Above the extracts from Federica Mogherini speech at “Working together: A sustainable future for the Western Mediterranean“, at the 15th meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 5+5 Western Mediterranean Dialogue. France, Italy,  Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia gathered inValletta  January, 18.