Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo: iStock.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo: iStock.

A two-year investigation conducted by a wildlife group has revealed dozens of Malaysians connected to a large wildlife trafficking network and regular use of Kuala Lumpur airports by international traffickers.

The Wildlife Justice Commission launched Operation Dragon in 2016. It reportedly helped bring down eight major wildlife trafficking networks in Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, The Star reported.

A total of 30 people and five others were jailed in Malaysia. One suspect who evaded arrest was put on an Interpol Red Notice, the first time this has happened in the country.

Three additional cases are ongoing in the country and about 200 possible “people of interest” have been identified.

A 44-page report outlined corruption among officials at strategic airports and hubs within South and Southeast Asia. Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) featured many times as destination airports for smuggled wildlife goods over the past four years, it said.

Some 11 seizures took place in Bangkok while just three had occurred in Kuala Lumpur over that period.

Malaysia ranked first for having the greatest frequency of officials colluding with traffickers.

Eleven different traffickers said they had links with officials in Malaysia on multiple separate occasions, the report said. And all claimed that made Kuala Lumpur one of the easiest places through which to smuggle wildlife.

Malaysia also had the second highest number of animals offered or spotted over the period, with 3,398 reported. India ranked first with 9,833.

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