Trafficker Emile N’Bouke Arrested in Togo with ‘Hundreds of Kilos’ of Ivory

Ivory trafficker Emile N'bouke is believed to be responsible for the slaughter of 10,000 elephants. (Screenshot via ABC Nightline)
Ivory trafficker Emile N’bouke is believed to be responsible for the slaughter of 10,000 elephants. (Screenshot via ABC Nightline)

Infamous ivory smuggler Emile N’bouke has at last been brought down by authorities in the West African country of Togo. Dubbed “The Boss”, N’bouke is believed to be responsible for the slaughter of 10,000 elephants during his nearly four-decade reign.

Ofir Drori, founder of the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA) in Cameroon, said via email that N’bouke was arrested by a special unit in Togo, which was originally set up to fight drug trafficking. At the time of his arrest, the unit found “hundreds of kilos of ivory, from his shop, hidden behind it, and in his house”. Drori’s team was instrumental in the capture of this international criminal.

N’bouke became rich and powerful dealing in illegal ivory by using legal ivory trade loopholes. Drori explained that N’bouke knows CITES “in detail, better than most government delegates and said we should not worry, because ivory is not entirely illegal and more legal sales are expected”. (Note: Criminals pay attention to CITES outcomes, and are profiting from the Convention’s history of relaxing trade bans.)

Drori, along with investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer, led an operation in Togo to nab N’bouke, which was profiled on ABC Nightline in the US on August 5, 2013. Although N’bouke was tipped off and managed to escape this arrest attempt (filmed earlier in 2013), the announcement of his arrest came two days after the episode was broadcast.


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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.