Gabon Says It Busted a Major Ivory Smuggling Network

Gabon Says It Busted a Major Ivory Smuggling Network


President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, right, and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya speaking to reporters after officials set ablaze stockpiles of smuggled elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns in Nairobi in 2016.

Tony Karumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

DAKAR, Senegal — Officials in Gabon say they have dismantled the Central African nation’s largest ivory trafficking network, which last year alone was responsible for trading, selling and shipping six tons of ivory across the continent.

A two-year investigation, called Operation Nzok — which means elephant in a local language — resulted in the arrests of a Chadian man, Abdoulaye Mohamoud Ibrahim, and eight others, including his wife and other family members.

Officials said their analysis of the suspects’ laptops and cellphones had revealed links to Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that has been waging war in northern Nigeria and neighboring areas for nearly nine years.

Gabon has the largest population of forest elephants in the world. Also home to gorillas, mandrills and hippos, it is one of the lushest nations on the planet — 80 percent of its land mass is forest.

The country’s president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, has faced widespread allegations of election fraud from both opponents and outside observers, and his family has ruled the nation for decades. But Mr. Bongo is heralded by conservationists for his work to protect animals and marine life.

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