Call them the spies who love elephants (or rhinos or tigers).
The top spy agencies in the U.S. are sharing intelligence and personnel to bust international wildlife trafficking rings, which rake in more than $20 billion a year in the trade of everything from elephant ivory and rhino horn to the bladders of a Mexican fish.
Without intelligence of the sort used to fight drug and sex traffickers, according to experts, some of the planet’s most iconic creatures face extinction.
“We didn’t have the same resources to fight this trade that other agencies had,” Edward Grace, the deputy chief of law enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said. “That is a gap we are filling in now.”