First reward offered for a transnational criminal organization

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, applauded the State Department’s announcement of an up-to-$1-million reward for information leading to the dismantling of the Zaysavang Network, one of the most notorious transnational criminal organizations engaged in trafficking wildlife.  Vixay Keosavang, the network’s ruthless leader, was featured recently in the New York Times.

Chairman Royce said, “I am pleased that the State Department is using legislative authorities I authored to disrupt the expansive wildlife poaching and trafficking networks increasingly linked to terrorists.  If we can take down Vixay Keosavang’s network, the impact will be felt globally.”

There is increasing concern that wildlife poaching and trafficking are growing national security threats that fuel corruption and weaken governance.  Increasingly, these illegal operations finance transnational criminal organizations and extremist groups – including Joseph Kony’s LRA and al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab.  Some estimate that wildlife trafficking generates billions in annual revenue for these notorious networks.

Chairman Royce said, “Vixay Keosavang, one of the worst actors in the black market of wildlife parts, has been given virtual immunity by the government of Laos. Following today’s announcement, the United States must exert strong diplomatic pressure on the Laotian government, where it is clear senior officials are lining their own pockets by harboring Keosavang.”

NOTE: Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law legislation originally authored by Rep. Royce, which expands the State Department’s rewards program to target the world’s worst human rights abusers and transnational organized criminals such as wildlife traffickers like Keosavang.