University of Miami Inter-American Law Review


Wildlife trafficking is a serious yet often overlooked issue across the Americas. This Note examines wildlife trafficking across the Americas, analyzing the legal frameworks and challenges facing countries like the United States, Guatemala, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, and Brazil. Three key obstacles emerge: the lack of recognition of trafficking as organized crime, limited resources for enforcement, and deficient penalties. Though the United States has laws like the Lacey Act to address importation of illegally traded wildlife, weak foreign laws constrain efficacy. Many Latin American nations do not categorize wildlife trafficking as organized crime, despite its intricate parallels with activities like drug trafficking. Resources for enforcement are inadequate, exemplified by the Petén region of Guatemala, which has just five prosecutors for 36,000 sq. km. Penalties are also often negligible and fail to deter wildlife crime rings. However, recent developments like Peru’s Law 31.622 formally recognizing wildlife trafficking as organized crime, provide hope. The pivotal solution is addressing trafficking as organized crime, encompassing enhanced penalties, resources, and global cooperation. With animal trafficking profits rivaling arms and drug trades, it is imperative for nations across the Americas to collectively tackle this issue through a harmonized, stringent legal framework before countless more species are lost.