Two US men have copped jail time and hefty fines for smuggling lizards out of Australia by hiding them in gift wrapping.
During a trial in Miami, Florida, the men admitted they had travelled to Broome in Western Australia in March 2018 to capture native spiny-tailed lizards and resell them in the US, according to Australia’s Border Force (ABF).
Although knowing it is illegal to export native Australian animals, they were found to have captured and mailed two packages of lizards back to Miami, Florida and Medford, Oregon.
The lizards were hidden in gift-wrapped packages and concealed in a larger box containing souvenirs.
The ABF seized one of the packages in April 2018 at WA postal facility, which revealed 15 lizards concealed in multiple plastic containers with holes for airflow.
ABF’s regional acting commander of operations, Shaun Senior, said the conviction highlights the close collaboration ABF has with domestic and international partners to identify those involved in the cruel trade of wildlife smuggling.
“Wildlife smuggling is a global problem and one of the largest transnational organised criminal activities. Posting animals in packages is illegal, cruel and inhumane, many animals smuggled in this way do not survive,” Senior said.
“I congratulate those involved in uncovering this operation which clearly demonstrates the successful strategic and tactical coordination between the ABF and the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement.”
The men, aged 39 and 31, pled guilty in Miami, Florida and both were sentenced last month.
The 39-year-old was sentenced to three years of supervised release, 300 days of home detention and will pay a $40,000 fine, while the 31-year-old was sentenced to three years of supervised release, six months of home detention and 250 hours of community service relating to environmental issues.
Featured image: ABF