As pioneers in the use of professional intelligence applied to environmental crime and crime convergence, for over a decade, Earth League International (ELI) has been at the forefront of utilizing professional intelligence to combat environmental organized crime. With a proven history of success, ELI identifies and investigates the most important environmental criminals and transnational wildlife trafficking networks globally, including their links to Transnational Organized Crime.

ELI comprises experienced multinational field investigators, researchers, crime analysts, geospatial, intelligence analysts, and highly skilled retired professionals from various U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, all with extensive experience in executing projects worldwide, including former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and other government agencies.

ELI conducts research into criminal networks, connections to transnational organized crime, and convergence with other serious offenses like money laundering, human smuggling, corruption, and drug trafficking. Through field investigations, research, and analysis, we target transnational criminal organizations involved in environmental crime, along with international traffickers, middlemen, and corrupt government officials. Our efforts unearth evidence and unveil previously undisclosed information regarding the criminal exploitation of nature.

Due to security concerns and the sensitive nature of our work, along with our collaborations with various government agencies, over 50% of our operations are not made public. This confidentiality ensures the integrity and effectiveness of our missions.

Typically, our operations may last from several months to years to complete and can be complex in terms of logistics, data collection and processing. To do so, we employ a team of multinational field operatives (including investigators and researchers), crime experts, and analytical support staff. To gain the trust of local contacts, sources and informants we need to spend a lot of time developing relationships to the point where we gain enough trust so we can understand the entire illegal supply chain, map the whole criminal network, identify the key Persons of Interest, and extract valuable information that our analysts will use to produce various intelligence products, including confidential reports for law enforcement and government partners.


wildlife crime intelligence
ELI’s operations in Eastern Africa

Fighting environmental organized crime is not just about awareness campaigns or deploying the latest technology to remote areas.
Threats to wildlife, forests and oceans cannot be addressed only through awareness or demand reduction campaigns. Even funding and empowering rangers and local communities to protect wildlife on the ground is not enough. Due to the complexity, international reach, and transnational organized criminal networks associated with environmental/wildlife crime, only professional intelligence can effectively shine a light on and thwart these crimes.

The intelligence-led approach is needed to integrate the more traditional “reactive” conservation models with a more proactive, impactful, and disruptive approach. Intelligence is the knowledge – ideally the foreknowledge – that our organization and partners must have to safeguard Earth and respond to very concrete threats to the environment and to us all.


Professional intelligence is essential to the detection, prevention, and prosecution of environmental crime and other related crimes, such as money laundering, corruption and the trafficking of other illegal products (Crime Convergence).
HUMINT, or HUMan INTelligence, Cyber Intelligence, and other forms of intelligence, if used with a strategic long-term vision, can also lead to the reduction of what is now called the “militarization of conservation”, the violence that surrounds environmental crimes, with its very high human toll.

The Collection and Processing of information feeds into our Intelligence Cycle. Equally important are Analysis, Reporting and Dissemination. These activities begin with the collection of the first information and continues indefinitely. With processing and analysis all the information gathered from various sources are converted in a form which is usable and understandable for analysis. Raw information are translated, evaluated for reliability and their relevance is assessed. Among other products, this work includes the production of Confidential Intelligence Briefs (CIBs) for government and law enforcement agencies, and Public Reports for the public and policy makers.


Earth League International environmental crime
ELI’s crime analysis


Our intelligence-gathering and analytical work allows us to:

  1. Inform the public and policymakers about the real drivers and enablers behind environmental crime;
  2. Collect information and investigate along the entire illegal supply chains and identify the top players throughout the criminal networks, including Crime Convergence; and
  3. Provide national and international law enforcement and government agencies with confidential information and evidence that can lead to further investigations, arrests, prosecutions and the disruption/destruction of criminal networks.


Earth League International wildlife crime
Baby orangutans seized in Thailand. Photo credit: Earth League International

In Mexico and the U.S., our intelligence-gathering work on illegal fishing and the trafficking of totoaba and marine products, that is pushing the vaquita to extinction (Operation FAKE GOLD), helped Mexican and U.S. authorities to crack down on some important international traffickers, and supported U.S. authorities in arresting some of the most important totoaba international traffickers, in Southern California in May 2023.

Operation OLD WORLD was dedicated to exposing and gathering intelligence on an intricate network responsible for smuggling illegal wildlife products from China to Europe, largely intended for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) purposes. This operation resulted in the delivery of a comprehensive Confidential Intelligence Brief (CIB) to the Dutch authorities. The CIB unveiled the trafficking networks’ operations, the main traffickers, their modus operandi, and convergence with other serious crimes. Leveraging the intelligence provided by ELI, the Intelligence and Investigation Service of the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA-IOD) was able to advance their investigation and arrest an allegedly important wildlife trafficker based in Rotterdam.


Our investigative operations in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam (Operation GAME OVER and Operation RED CLOUD) informed the public and policymakers about the extent of the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn, and also provided actionable intelligence to various international authorities. Operation Game Over was also featured in the Netflix documentary ‘The Ivory Game‘.

In Thailand, months of investigation by our team, allowed the Royal Thai Police and Customs to arrest two of the most important wildlife traffickers in Asia, who had been smuggling ivory, rhino horn, orangutans, pangolins and other illegal wildlife for years (Operation MOZART).

Evidence-based recommendations and outcomes developed as a result of professional intelligence and analytical work will ideally affect change at many levels. Crucially, nobody can be perceived to be outside of the reach of the law. Upon the conclusion of our intelligence and analytical work, we prepare Confidential Intelligence Briefs (CIBs) to share with relevant law enforcement bodies at national, regional, and international levels, depending on the nature of intelligence and which agencies are well-positioned to take effective action. In the past years we have shared dozens of CIBs with selected law enforcement and government agencies.

wildlife trafficking networks
A summary of the main Transnational Environmental Crime/Trafficking Networks known to ELI as of January 2024. ⓒEarth League International.
Independence and Integrity

In order to conduct intelligence-gathering operations and independent investigations effectively in certain countries, it is crucial that we maintain a distance by not establishing bases within these nations. This approach ensures that we can share or publish our findings and protect our organizational integrity without the risk of our offices and personnel becoming liabilities in the event of confrontations with entities under investigation.

Operating externally allows us to act without the threat of censorship, intimidation, or expulsion. As an independent agency, our primary role is to collect, assess, produce, and share actionable intelligence, ensuring that our contributions remain unbiased and impactful.


ELI does not always release media briefings in relation to our operations and the work of government partners, as doing so would jeopardize the safety of our teams in the field, law enforcement operations, and future investigations.


Earth League International
ⓒEarth League International