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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Australia. The police seized hundreds of lizards. They were kept in crisp packets

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Police in the Australian state of New South Wales have busted a crime syndicate that planned to export almost 260 native reptiles to Hong Kong with an estimated value of over A$1 million. Four people were arrested in the case.

An investigation into the illegal wildlife trade began in September last year. Over the past few weeks, officers have carried out several raids in New South Wales and seized a total of 257 lizards and three snakes. 118 lizards were found in one house in Sydney alone.

The reptiles were kept in poor conditions. According to the police, they were placed in small containers and crisp packets and were then taken to Hong Kong.

Four people were arrested

Three people, aged between 41 and 59, were arrested in December last year, and a 31-year-old man was arrested by police this month. They were charged with “exporting native specimens subject to export regulations without a permit”, dealing with criminal assets worth less than $100,000 and participating in a criminal group.

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According to the police, the operation was led by a 59-year-old man, a 31-year-old man was responsible for catching the animals, and a 51-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman were responsible for transporting and exporting them. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison. Two men were refused bail.

The value of all confiscated reptiles was estimated at AUD 1.2 million (PLN 3.1 million). Before the animals were released into the wild, they were taken to zoos to be examined by veterinarians.

Over recent decades, Hong Kong has dominated the international trade in many exotic animals, according to WWF. A study published in 2021 by the ADM Capital Foundation shows that four million live animals were imported there from at least 84 countries over a five-year period.

ABC, police.nws.gov.au, BBC

Main photo source: x.com/@abcnews

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