This week on Dateline reporter Ade Adepitan, goes undercover in Peru to reveal the shocking scale of wildlife trafficking in the Amazon jungle.
It’s reported criminal networks traffic tens of thousands of protected wildlife each year through the remote frontier town of Iquitos and on to a global market in exotic pets.
“I’ve been told that this is the epicentre when it comes to smuggling wildlife … this forest is teeming with life and it’s a maze of waterways which you could smuggle anything through and nobody would have a clue”, says Dateline’s Ade Adepitan.
On the frontlines of this battle, Dateline meets Peru’s animal activists who are trying to save these endangered species which include tortoises, lizards, monkeys and snakes.
Armed with hidden cameras their only hope of saving these animals is to infiltrate the traffickers’ network in carefully planned sting operations and lead them into the hands of waiting police.
However, catching and convicting traffickers is proving challenging for the police. Not only are they up against a network of highly organised smugglers, they must deal with corruption in their own ranks.
“[Translated] There’s also the problem of informants within the police. They can hinder us when we organise an operation; the criminals already have knowledge of it”, Environmental prosecutor Pablo Ormeno Quiroz tells Dateline.
This weakness in the police force is exploited by traffickers who say that even if caught, paying a small bribe is often all that stands between jail time and freedom.
What will happen when Ade goes undercover with a wildlife activist to try to catch an illegal animal trafficker in the act?
Tuesday 2 May at 9.30pm on SBS.