A clandestine network has been caught using mules to traffick protected animals from Melilla to Nador.
Rabat – The Spanish Civil Guard has dismantled the international network engaged in trafficking protected species to Morocco.
‘Operation Fennec’ supervised by Europol, is the fruit of a coordinated investigation with the participation of Portugal, Slovakia, and Morocco. It has so far enabled the arrest of 10 alleged members of the criminal organization.
The Spanish Civil Guard also seized around 200 animals, including birds, mammals, and reptiles that were destined to be smuggled to Morocco, according to Spanish media.
The investigation was initiated after a complaint from a citizen to the NGO SEO / BirdLife which reported the information to the Civil Guard.
The clandestine smuggling network had contacts in many European countries that provided them with protected specimens to illegally export them to Morocco.
After investigating the suspects, Spanish authorities found out that smuggled animals were stored in an animals shop in Fuengirola and in Ronda, both situated in the province of Malaga.
Spanish media reported on the existence of an emerging market in Africa dedicated to selling illegal animals.
Run by four people, one of the members of the network had judicial records in species trafficking and was responsible for acquiring animals from across Europe.
To secure a pass at police controls, the network had a veterinarian who issued the corresponding health cards for exotic animals.
Among the arrested individuals is a Moroccan national residing in the Spanish city of Melilla. The person is believed to have been responsible for animal distribution in Morocco and finding potential buyers via social media.
To facilitate the border-crossing to Morocco, the network used mules between Melilla and Nador.
No further details have been provided by authorities on the date of the trials.