Japanese lizard smugglers jailed

A Japanese man caught by the Australian Border Force (ABF) trying to smuggle 13 native bobtail (or shingleback) lizards out of Australia in June has been jailed by a Perth Magistrate.

The 52 year old was sentenced today to five months imprisonment, to serve two months from the date of arrest, and a 12 month good behaviour order, after he pleaded guilty to one smuggling charge and one of animal cruelty.

His co-accused, a 28 year old Japanese national, who was the collector of the lizards in the smuggling operation, also received a five month sentence with a two month minimum when he appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on 12 July.

The court was told the 52 year was the courier in the operation, having only arrived in Perth three days prior to his arrest.

The 13 lizards were packed inside netted laundry bags which were wrapped in towels inside two plastic containers in the man’s check-in luggage.

The ABF is taking steps to have both men removed from Australia as soon as is practicable following the completion of their sentences.

Wildlife smuggling is a lucrative trade and organised criminal syndicates are involved in exporting and selling Australia’s unique native fauna overseas, particularly in Asia.

Australian bobtails can attract up to $10,000 each on the international black market.

The ABF works closely with its state and federal partners to detect, disrupt and investigate those involved in this cruel trade.

A number of the lizards from this detection have subsequently died and some remain in poor health.

Video, still photographs and the media release published on 6 June 2019 relating to this detection can be found at: newsroom.abf.gov.au

The maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences under Australian law is 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $210,000 for individuals or up to $1,050,000 for corporations.

People with information about the illegal removal of reptiles or who notice any suspicious border related activity should call Australian Border Force’s Border Watch at: Australia.gov.au/borderwatch.

/Public Release. View in full here.