Alleged Lizard Smuggler Arrested After Public Tip-off

A Malaysian national has been arrested following an appeal to the community by the Australian Border Force (ABF) as part of an investigation into an attempt export live native lizards out of Australia.

The 19-year-old man was arrested after ABF officers visited a Subiaco address together with wildlife officers from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) yesterday (Monday 6 May 2024).

A search of the residence resulted in a number of species of wildlife being seized including geckos, spiders and scorpions, as well as three digital devices.

He was subsequently charged with 1 x attempted export of regulated native specimen(s) contrary to section 303DD(1) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) and remanded in custody to appear in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia today (Tuesday 7 May 2024).

Investigations began after an air cargo company in Perth alerted ABF officers after finding three lizards in a consignment labelled as ‘toys’ bound for Malaysia on 29 February 2024.

The lizards were suspected to be destined for sale through the lucrative international wildlife market.

The investigation was undertaken in consultation with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water (DCCEEW) environmental crime team.

Following inquiries, ABF officers issued a public appeal for information into the February consignment, and quickly received a number of credible reports through Border Watch.

ABF Assistant Commissioner Chris Waters said without the information received from the community ABF investigators may not have made an arrest so quickly.

“This is an outstanding result, which quite possibly has prevented even more Australian wildlife being sent overseas for profit – a practice which is not only cruel but many of the animals smuggled this way sadly don’t survive the journey,” Assistant Commissioner Waters said.

“We want to thank the people that came forward with information which helped lead us to the man’s arrest.”

Anyone with information about the import and export of wildlife can contact Border Watch.

By reporting suspicious activities, you help protect Australia’s border and the community.

Information can be provided anonymously.

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