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Old 08-23-2005
SHADCHA SHADCHA is offline
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Default Man Charged With Reptile Smuggling

Japanese Man Charged for Smuggling 39 Snakes, Turtles, Lizards Into Australia

A Japanese man has been arrested and charged with smuggling 39 exotic snakes, turtles and lizards inside plastic containers and speaker boxes, Australian customs said Tuesday.

The 40-year-old man, whose name was not immediately released, arrived at the eastern city of Brisbane late Monday on a flight from Singapore.

Customs officials opened the man's carryon luggage for a routine inspection and "were surprised to see something wriggling," according to a statement released Tuesday.

Inside, authorities allegedly found six snakes stored in four clear plastic containers and two shampoo bottles.

A search of the rest of the man's luggage uncovered 33 more reptiles, including green tree pythons, albino pythons, iguanas, frilled-neck dragons, slider turtles and tree monitors concealed in speaker boxes and food containers, the statement said.

The man was expected to appear before the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday, charged with importing regulated live specimens without a permit. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to 110,000 Australian dollars ($83) if convicted.

Customs Regional Director Jenny Eutick said Australia would treat the alleged importation as a serious offense.

"Australia has some of the strictest wildlife protection laws in the world and is a signatory to international conventions which outlaw the trafficking of endangered and exotic species," Customs Regional Director Jenny Eutick said in the statement, adding that many of the animals did not survive the journey.

"Excellent cooperation between Customs and Immigration officers has prevented reptiles from entering Australia which could have introduced exotic diseases, seriously damaging Australia's unique native wildlife," she added.
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