Image: NSW Police

Syndicate Allegedly Attempting To Export Australian Native Reptiles Dismantled By NSW Police

New South Wales Police have dismantled a criminal syndicate allegedly attempting to export over $1 million worth of Australian native lizards and other reptiles to Hong Kong.

In September 2023, Strike Force Whyaratta was established by the Raptor Squad to investigate alleged illegal native animal and reptile exports after nine packages containing 59 live lizards were intercepted enroute to Hong Kong.

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Between December 20, 2023, and January 5, 2024, search warrants were executed were a 41-year-old woman, and three men, aged 31, 54 and 59 were arrested.

All four were charged with multiple offences including illegally exporting native animals, dealing with the proceeds of crime, and participating in a criminal group.

Two of the men were refused bail; the 31-year-old and the 59-year-old, who is now scheduled to appear before Wyong Local Court on January 17.

In total, 257 lizards were located during search warrants and packages intercepted. The lizards were taken to zoos and wildlife parks for examination by vets before being released back into the wild.

NSW Police said based on an average of $5,000 per lizard, the total value of the reptiles seized was approximately $1.2 million.

In addition, three snakes, eight eggs, and 25 dead lizards were also found during one of the searches conducted by police at a property in East Hills.

Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or file a report on the Crime Stoppers website.

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