Following the high-profile arrest of two men in Sydney yesterday, a joint investigation between the Australian Government and the NSW Police Force has sent a clear message to those who seek to profit off our unique flora and fauna.
A joint operation between the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the NSW Police Force Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor executed a total of six search warrants across Sydney and the Illawarra.
Across the six warrants an astonishing range of native and exotic animals were found and seized including turtles, pythons, lizards and deadly snakes such as a Death Adder and a Red-bellied Black snake.
Over the course of the investigation, officers uncovered a criminal syndicate involved in the illegal trade of native and exotic fauna across Australia, Canada, Asia and the United States of America.
In 2019, mail packages were identified by Australian Border Force officers who alerted the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment officers worked closely with detectives from the Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor who led yesterday’s investigation and laid charges against the two men.
Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the investigation was successful because of the incredibly close working relationship between Australia’s border and law enforcement agencies.
“Information from the Australian Border Force is one of the key evidentiary elements that assists my department to disrupt organised criminals who plan to profit off selling our wildlife on the international black market,” Ms Ley said.
“More than 300 animals have been seized as a result of this operation which underscores how important the importance of these investigations.
“These are serious offences that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment or a $210,000 fine.”
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs Jason Wood said the ABF was committed to working together with its domestic and international partners to identify and crack down on organised criminal syndicates involved in the cruel trade of wildlife smuggling through information sharing and collaboration.
“The ABF is committed to stamping out the trade of illegal wildlife through information sharing and collaboration with partner agencies,” Mr Wood said.
“At the border the ABF has the capability to detect illegal wildlife and wildlife products, thanks to its advanced border screening technology and highly skilled and well-trained officers.”
Two men were arrested and charged for their involvement in the international wildlife smuggling network through importing, exporting and possession of native and exotic wildlife, as well as other fraud offences.