AUSTRALIA (TR) – Two male Japanese nationals have been arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle more than one dozen native lizards out of the country, authorities in Perth said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, officials with the Australian Border Force (ABF) apprehended the two men, aged 28 and 51, before they boarded separate flights to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, reports TBS News (June 7).
Officials said that 13 bobtail lizards were found inside a suitcase belonging to the 51-year-old suspect. Packed in laundry bags and towels placed in plastic containers, all of the lizards were alive. They were provided with no food or water.
The 28-year-old man was in possession of the same type of containers in his luggage. Officials also found photographs of lizards on his mobile telephone.
The suspects, who have not been named, were accused of attempted smuggling a regulated native specimen. The 51-year-old suspect faces an additional charge of animal cruelty.
“It will be alleged the men arrested yesterday are part of an international wildlife smuggling syndicate, and are linked to three other Japanese nationals charged with similar offenses in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth over the past six months,” said ABF’s Clint Sims, the superintendent of enforcement operations in Western Australia, according to Kyodo News.
According to media in Australia, the native Australian bobtail lizard can bring around 750,000 yen on the international black market.
Under Australian law, smugglers of regulated wildlife can face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 16 million yen.