Man charged with smuggling wildlife on World Wildlife Day

Man charged with smuggling wildlife

A joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Department of Environment and Energy (DoEE) investigation has resulted in a 28-year-old Bondi Beach man being charged for alleged illegal international wildlife trafficking.

The man was arrested at Bondi Beach on Friday 3 March, World Wildlife Day.

He was later charged with a total of 41 offences – 25 counts contrary to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), and 16 offences contrary to the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth).

It will be alleged in court that between July and October 2016, investigators seized six packages bound for Sweden containing more than 40 native Australian shingleback lizards.

Additionally, it will be alleged the man was responsible for 16 packages from Thailand containing more than 200 animals, including Chinese soft shell turtles, alligator snapping turtles, snakehead fish, sugar gliders, veiled chameleons and freshwater stingrays.

AFP Manager Crime Operations Chris McDevitt said the alleged offender is facing charges that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

“This has been a complex investigation and the scale of criminality involved in the matter has been astounding,” Commander McDevitt said.

“The AFP is committed to working with the Department of Environment and Energy and our other partners including Australian Border Force and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to investigate matters such as this, and reduce the impact that wildlife-related crime can have on Australian and global biodiversity,” he said.

Department of Environment and Energy First Assistant Secretary Matt Cahill said that the Australian Government takes protecting Australia’s native species very seriously and will not tolerate the illegal export of our protected wildlife.

“Native Australian reptiles such as lizards and snakes are very highly sought after overseas and can be sold very profitably by offenders who have little regard for their welfare,” Mr Cahill said.

“International illegal wildlife trade is worth billions with poachers making huge profits from selling wildlife and wildlife products.

“Australia is working internationally to combat illegal wildlife trade, to ensure that the penalties match the seriousness of the crime, and to make sure international organised crime groups can't keep the profits from illegal wildlife trade,” Mr Cahill said.

The man was bailed to appear before Downing Centre Local Court on 14 March 2017. He has been charged with the following offences:

Charges:

  • Seven counts of attempting to export a regulated native specimen contrary to Section 303DD(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
  • 13 counts of importing a regulated live specimen contrary to Section 303EK(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
  • One count of importing an Appendix II CITES specimen contrary to Section 303CD(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
  • Three counts of attempting to import a regulated live specimen contrary to Section 303EK(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).
  • 16 counts of contravening conditions applying to conditionally non-prohibited goods brought or imported into Australian territory contrary to Section 186(5) of the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Cth).
  • 1 count of possessing a non-native CITES regulated specimen contrary to Section 303GN of the Environment Protection and biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).

Footage:

Images and videos from this operation can be obtained from the following links:

Search warrant footage and still images
https://www.hightail.com/download/dDZGeVdzNnl0TWxBSXNUQw

Comments from AFP and DoEE spoespeople:
https://www.hightail.com/download/dDZGeVdvNHZVbTlqQTlVag

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media: (02) 6131 6333
Department of Environment and Energy Media: (02) 6275 9880


Subscribe and receive email alerts when new media releases are published.

National Security Hotline

Read the AFP Annual Report 2019-20

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

Platypus Online: Read. Discover. Enjoy.