Another tool WildLeaks uses is Maltego, which the developers describe as an “open source intelligence and graphical link analysis tool for gathering and connecting information for investigative tasks. ” Crosta says they use it for making connections between people and any other useful data they have. “These softwares allow you to connect, maybe, information coming from the field or the person, who emailed to another person, to a company, to other people, and these are all hidden connections. ” He told me. “We do a lot of good work on social media, and on the deep web as well.
Crosta created WildLeaks in 2014, a year after forming Earth League International (ELI), formerly the Elephant Action League, which he describes as “the first intelligence agency for Earth. ” WildLeaks is a separate, secure platform that allows tipsters to anonymously report any environmental crime without fear of exposure.
In this regard, Crosta isn’t unique. “One of our key messages in relation to environmental crime is that environmental crime is as serious as any other crime you would think of, like drugs smuggling or human trafficking. ” Maria Socorro Manguiat, UNEP’s Senior Legal Officer and Head of National Environmental Law Unit, told Engadget.
Crosta would likely scoff at the idea of training customs officials, as in his world, they’re often the very person committing the environmental crime. “There was this leak, I think a couple of years ago, we received an anonymous message saying, ‘There is a small plane that leaves Lusaka Airport every Monday morning and is very shady.
Your classic NGO or environmental charity might have a website, maybe even a tips line, but Crosta sees technology as a key tool to up the ante in the fight against environmental crime, and it’s all about intelligence, a word he uses a lot. “I started asking, who is doing intelligence?
Crosta has just released a 70-page report outlining all the work WildLeaks has done to combat the range of environmental crime that enables the ivory trade, illegal deforestation and many other organized criminal activities that erode our planet’s resources.
To bring intelligence to the fight against wildlife crime, Crosta regularly employs former CIA and FBI agents, and has a military background himself. “I come from Italy, I served in the military police, I was dealing with mafia as well. ” His early dealings with organized crime would set him up with the perfect skill set to take on these crimes in a modern way.
On one hand it’s priceless publicity for WildLeaks and Earth League International, but on the other it reveals Crosta’s identity to more people, and could highlight some of his methods, and that spy technology. “We allowed the filmmakers to film only the gadgets from the shelf.
He grabs the animal by the horns and the video ends, but the torture does not. “The shocking videos by [safari organizers] Green Mile showed hunting with automatic weapons, having children hunt with automatic weapons, gunning down fleeing animals from moving cars, capturing baby animals and torturing dying ones, and using bait and lights at night to attract unsuspecting animals – all illegal acts” reads the summary of events in WildLeaks’ report, released today.
As Crosta tells it, most NGOs or activist groups are going after the wrong people. “Because it's so much easier to bust, you just see the low hanging fruit, so the local NGO is happy, they get more money, and the law enforcement is happy. ” This has been the situation since basically forever, and Crosta wants to change it.
Crosta is the founder of WildLeaks, a whistleblowing site for environmental crime, and he’s just aborted an undercover operation with a prominent ivory trader in China.
That's why we have to share with the media, with law enforcement, with NGOs. ” Crosta told me. “They were talking about wildlife trafficking and then they shifted to human smuggling and then to money laundering.
But don’t call it the WikiLeaks of wildlife: The two sites may share some technological similarities, but ethically and practically they are very different. “They actually called us when we launched; they asked us if we wanted to discuss any kind of collaboration and we said no, because we are almost the opposite of WikiLeaks. ” Crosta told me. “So WikiLeaks is all about splashing whatever you have on the media, as it is, a lot of noise.
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