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Australian Police Catch Suspects Of Smuggling Lizards Worth A Million Dollars

A smuggling ring in Australia was making an effort to export native lizards and reptiles to Hong Kong. They were exporting them at the price of more than 1.2 million Australian dollars (USD $800,000). But the Police of Australia have caught them.

New South Wales Police said in a statement published Monday, three men and one woman were arrested in Sydney as part of the investigation.

The police stopped them in September 2023 when they were smuggling nine packages containing 59 live lizards on route to Hong Kong.

The court have ordered all four presumed members of the group to appear in January.

The police said in a statement: “Police will allege in court the criminal group were catching live lizards and native Australian reptiles to export for profit to Hong Kong”.

“The animals were kept in poor conditions and bound in small containers when they were packaged to be sent,” it added.

Police stated that officers found a total of 257 lizards and three snakes during the inspection, both in packages and in addresses used by the group.

“The reptiles were taken to various zoos and wildlife parks for examination by a vet before being released back to the wild,” the Police also said.

According to police estimates, the price of the lizards was around 5,000 Australian dollars (USD $3,350) each, making a total of around 1.285 million Australian dollars (USD $860,000).

The police didn’t express why the lizards were being smuggled, presumably, but Hong Kong has been considered as a hub for illicit wildlife trade for a very long time and the reason is its busy port and its status as a gateway into mainland China.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Hong Kong also says that: “exotic pets are becoming increasingly popular” in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The charity says on its website, “Rare species of turtles and tortoises, snakes, lizards, parrots, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, scorpions and many others, are traded as pets”.

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