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UK leads blitz on green crime

CRIMINAL GANGS who smuggle endangered species are to be the subject of a British-led drive to stamp out the trade.

Police and prosecutors in impoverished countries in the Caribbean and the Commonwealth will receive specialised training in environmental and criminal law to capture the traffickers.

The European Union project, which has been spearheaded by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, is aimed specifically at frontline enforcement officers in developing nations.

The programme aims to tackle not only the smuggling of rare species of tigers, birds and parrots, but also the illegal movement of environmentally damaging chemicals such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, has succeeded in persuading his EU counterparts to back the project's two main initiatives and spread Britain's pioneering approach on the issue.

One will give financial aid to workshops with developing countries and another is aimed at sharing information on organised crime gangs that has been gathered by a specialist unit of the G8 group of industrialised nations.

Mr Meacher said the Lyon Group, a body of experts on trans-national organised crime, would begin a programme of co-ordination.