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West Africa urged to expand counter-drug ops to wildlife smugglers

Ambassador William Brownfield, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs delivers a speech at the headquarters of the General Police Directorate in Bogota, on August 2, 2014The United States is urging West African nations to expand cooperation on drug trafficking to also target groups that trade in endangered wildlife, a senior US State Department official said Tuesday. William Brownfield, assistant secretary for counter-narcotics affairs, said combatting wildlife smuggling has become an “extremely high priority” for the United States in part because crime groups that traffic in elephant tusks or rhino horns can — and do — smuggle drugs, arms and humans. “We figure that wildlife trafficking is more than seven billion dollars a year — that is a pretty big piece of change,” said Brownfield. Brownfield said that expanding cooperation on wildlife trafficking will be discussed Friday with West African officials who are in Washington for a US-Africa summit.

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