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Sam Wasser in King 5 News on research that helped arrest ivory traffickers (VIDEO)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:30

Sam Wasser, UW Biology Research Professor and Director of the Center for Conservation Biology, was recently interviewed by King 5 News for his lab's research and the role that it played in a recent ivory seizure and key arrests of ivory traffickers. 

The investigation and arrest were made possible because of research done by Sam Wasser, a professor at the University of Washington. Wasser is the Co-Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Forensic Science. The center, formerly known as the Center for Conservation Biology, changed its name in October.

Wasser's research recovers DNA from pieces of ivory, rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales that have been seized. The DNA has allowed him to create a mapped database that tracks where animals are being poached and where their husks are being trafficked. In 2018, his work helped identify the three largest ivory smuggling cartels in Africa.

"Since 2005, our lab has really been the only one in the world analyzing large ivory seizures for DNA," explained Wasser.

Wasser said the recent arrest in Washington was launched because of information he and Homeland Security learned while investigating a seizure in Southwest Africa.

"They need to be investigated because that will lead you to the big transnational criminal organizations. That's the choke point here that is moving dozens of these shipments," said Wasser. 

Read the full article in King 5 News. Read the press release on the Department of Justice website.

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