Operation Thunder: INTERPOL, WCO and India Customs intercept 18 tonnes of Red Sandalwood

The INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization conducted Operation Thunder, 2020 in 103 countries. The operation was conducted against environmental crimes.

About Operation Thunder

The Operation Thunder was held between September 14, 2020 and October 11, 2020. It resulted in large seizures of protected forestry and wildlife specimen. This triggered arrests and investigations world-wide including India.

Operation Thunder in India

In India, the India Customs along with INTERPOL and WCO seized 18 tonnes of red sandalwood that were destined for UAE. The seizures included 1.3 tonnes of ivory, 1 tonnes of pangolin scales, 1,700 killed pangolins, 87 truckloads of timber, 56,200 kg of marine products and 15,878 kg of plants.

The operation recovered 45,000 live animals. This included 1,400 turtles, 6,000 tortoise eggs, 1,600 birds, 1,800 reptiles.


According to INTERPOL, wildlife and forestry crime is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world. It often occurs in corruption, tax evasion, money laundering.

About the Operation

The Operation is being held since 2017. Under the operation, the participating countries focused on particularly vulnerable species protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora).

Significance of Operation Thunder

The illegal trade in wildlife is estimated to be 20 billion USD per year.

Other Operations of INTERPOL

INTERPOL is conducting several other operation to protect the wildlife. They are as follows

Project Predator

The project was enforced in 2010. It focuses on big cats and other wildlife. It assists its member countries to organise intelligence gathering, transnational operations, providing investigative support, etc.

Project Wisdom

The project focuses on elephants and rhinoceros. White Rhino horn is reduced to powder and used in traditional medicines. Ivory is carved out and sold as artifact. Project Wisdom supports its member countries in preventing hunting of elephants and rhinos.

Operation Thunderbird

It focuses on tackling illegal trade in timber and wildlife. It is being conducted since 2017.

Operation Worthy II

It targets on ivory trafficking in Africa. It is being held since 2015.

Operation PAWS

PAWS is Protection of Asian Wildlife Species. It is being implemented since 2015.




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