Earth League International unveils most comprehensive investigative report to date on Shark Fin Trafficking from Latin America to Asia, and Environmental Crime Convergence


April 22, 2024. Earth League International (ELI) is proud to announce the release of a groundbreaking report titled Operation STELLA MARIS: Investigating Shark Fin Trafficking Networks in Latin America and East Asia Through the Lens of Environmental Crime Convergence. 

The foundation of this report is built upon more than 5 years of fieldwork and intelligence analysis of ELI’s investigators and crime analysts, who have gathered first-hand evidence of shark fin trafficking and Environmental Crime Convergence directly from some of the world’s most notorious environmental criminals and their networks over the course of five years. 


The report highlights 5 case studies covering 10 transnational criminal networks operating from Latin America to Asia, 33 Persons of Interest, including some of the most important shark fin international traffickers, and dozens of smuggling routes identified by ELI that illustrate the convergence of environmental and wildlife crime, specifically shark fin trafficking, with other serious crimes and expose the severity of the issue at a global scale. This report utilizes ELI’s revolutionary 4-Type Environmental Crime Convergence paradigm in our 2023 Environmental Convergence Report with John Jay College of Criminal Justice to comprehensively understand and combat the intricate web of transnational organized crime operations behind shark fin trafficking and the criminal exploitation of nature.

The extensive field and analytical work invested in Operation STELLA MARIS underscores our commitment to unmasking the complexities of shark fin trafficking and environmental crime convergence. We hope that the findings will serve as a valuable resource to support the efforts of diverse stakeholders, from government agencies and policymakers to international bodies, the media, and other NGOs, in their ongoing fight against environmental crime“, says Andrea Crosta, Executive Director of Earth League International.

Environmental crime is breaking down critical ecosystems and accelerating climate change, fueling Earth’s extinction crisis and there’s a great need for high-quality detailed intelligence about the transnational trafficking networks and organized crime behind this criminal exploitation. 


Shark populations, especially those targeted by the international fin trade, are crashing, and over one-third of shark species are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable or Endangered. Not only is the practice of shark finning cruel, but a lack of sharks in marine ecosystems can lead to imbalances in species below them in the food chain that damage populations of coral reefs. 

Operation STELLA MARIS uncovers how the shark fin trade in Latin America extends far beyond shark fin trafficking, encompassing multiple types of wildlife and environmental crime, different forms of trafficking, human smuggling, fraud, and related financial and corruption-related crimes. Our intelligence-led field operations are essential to information gaps and provide evidence-based knowledge to various stakeholders, from government agencies to policymakers, the media, and the public. Our intelligence-led field operations are essential to information gaps and provide evidence-based knowledge to various stakeholders, from government agencies to policymakers, the media, and the public.  


ELI – Operation Stella Maris – geospatial representation of the trafficking activities of three networks.


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.

Combatting environmental crime and crime convergence should be at the center of our national security strategies and our fight to protect the future of our critical ecosystems. As we release this report, ELI invites governments, organizations, and individuals to continue to stand against environmental crime, including shark fin trafficking, crime convergence, and corruption. Let us work together to ensure the preservation of our planet’s biodiversity and a sustainable future.

Download the report here: ELI – Operation STELLA MARIS – Investigative Report – 22 April 2024