Strike Force Raptor have charged a man with 169 animal abuse and trafficking offences after dozens of reptiles were seized from a home in Sydney’s west yesterday.
In March 2019, the Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor and the Department of the Environment and Energy’s Office of Compliance commenced an investigation, following reports of the illegal exportation of protected Australian animals for money.
Following extensive inquiries, investigators, with assistance of officers from the Public Order and Riot Squad and the NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage, executed a search warrant at Marquesa Crescent, Lethbridge Park, yesterday (Thursday 23 May 2019).
Officers located 12 Shingleback lizards, one Stimson’s python, three young Monitors, a South American Mata Mata turtle, and two deceased crocodiles. The reptiles were seized by authorised wildlife handlers.
Investigators also located and seized mobile phones and other electronic devices to undergo forensic examination.
A 25-year-old man was arrested at the property and taken to Riverstone Police Station, where he was charged with 165 counts of deal in or attempt to deal in protected animal, two counts of attempted export regulated native specimen without permit or exemption, possess non-native/regulated specimen, and commit act of cruelty upon an animal.
Police will allege in court that the man, who did not hold a reptile keeper’s licence or exhibitors permit, captured native Australian animals before they were sent overseas for at least $38,000.
It will also be alleged that a further 147 reptiles – including a Death Adder, 58 Gecko lizards, blue-tongue lizards and 21 bearded dragon lizards – were seized by the NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage under a Commonwealth warrant carried out by the Department of Environment and Energy in 2017.
The man was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Mt Druitt Local Court on Wednesday 5 June 2019.
Investigations are continuing.
Strike Force Raptor was established in 2009 and conducts proactive investigations and intelligence-based, high-impact policing operations to prevent and disrupt conflicts, and dismantle any network engaged in serious organised criminal activity.
Anyone with information, including relevant photos and videos, that may assist Strike Force Raptor can report it directly to investigators via the Strike Force Raptor online reporting page: https://www1.police.nsw.gov.au/Default.aspx?id=49 or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Information provided to investigators will be treated in the strictest of confidence.