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Border Force and the National Crime Agency (NCA) have won the WWF sponsored Wildlife Crime Operation of the Year Award for their joint efforts to tackle organised wildlife crime in the UK. A representative from the organisations received the award presented by Chief Constable Simon Prince at the ceremony which is held as part of the National Wildlife Enforcers Conference on Saturday 22nd November. Grant Miller from the Border Force and Paul Bolton from the National Crime Agency collected the award from WWF's Living Planet Centre in Woking on Monday 24th November. 
The award was given for an operation in February 2014 when twelve critically endangered iguanas were seized from smugglers by Border Force officers at London's Heathrow Airport. The 12 San Salvador Rock Iguanas were each wrapped in an individual sock and had been stuffed into suitcases. Following an investigation by the NCA the two smugglers, both Romanian women in their 20s, were each sentenced to 12 months in prison.  Cases such as this show how working together the Border Force and NCA can have a critical part to play in stopping the illegal wildlife trade here in the UK.
Tim Luffman, from the CITES team at Border Force, said: 
I am delighted to have been able to accept the award on behalf of Border force and the National Crime Agency. The award has not only acknowledged both the significance of the investigation into the smuggling of the critically endangered Iguanas, but also the successful repatriation and release of the Iguanas into the wild. 
"This investigation has shown the strong partnership between UK law enforcement agencies and their counterparts overseas."
Peter Avery, from the NCA's Border Policing Command, said: 
"We're delighted and honoured that the NCA and Border Force have been recognised in this way. This case is unique because of the rare and priceless nature of the animals seized. With the help of Border Force we successfully brought to justice the two women responsible for the smuggling attempt - but our investigation has not ended. We are still actively seeking other members of the crime group involved."
Sarah Goddard, Species Policy Officer at WWF-UK, said: 
"I am delighted that the Border Force and the newly established NCA have won this award today. The impact the Border Force and the NCA has on wildlife crime is hugely significant by treating it as a serious and organised crime and with excellent detection and seizure work at our borders, this case shows that every effort is being made to stop the illegal wildlife trade in the UK. We hope that the Border Force's and NCA's good work goes to show how crucial the enforcement of wildlife law is in the UK and we hope that it can be continued to be resourced  and sufficiently supported by government and enforcement authorities well beyond 2016."
Caption for attached image.
Grant Miller from the Border Force and Paul Bolton from the National Crime Agency collected the award from WWF's Living Planet Centre in Woking on Monday 24th November. 
Rear left to right.
Paul Bolton, Senior Investigator from the National Crime Agency, Anoop Shukla, Tim Huffman and Grant Miller from the National CITES Enforcement Team
Front, left to right, Shuhab Hamid, Ann Ainsley and Sarah Goddard from WWF.
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Editor's notes
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