Pythons, bearded dragon seized in reptile smuggling raids

A Bearded Dragon has been released back into the wild after being seized in a police raid. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images
A Bearded Dragon has been released back into the wild after being seized in a police raid. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images

TWO live pythons and a bearded dragon have been seized in Western Australia as part of an international operation targeting the illegal trade of reptiles.

Surprise raids, compliance inspections and random airport checks were held as part of Operation Blizzard, an INTERPOL-coordinated campaign.

Australia and 13 other INTERPOL-member countries took part in the three-week operation to increase enforcement and surveillance activities around suspicious reptile trading.

Wildlife authorities executed seven search warrants against suspected illegal traders across Australia, and conducted 51 wildlife compliance inspections, resulting in 17 detections of non-compliance the seizure of 69 reptiles.

Australian Border Force Superintendent Operations Andrew Dawson said the ABF would continue to work closely with our partner agencies to share intelligence to identify and prevent attempts to illegally export native Australian wildlife.

“This is an incredibly cruel trade and the ABF will continue to do whatever we can to stop it,” said Superintendent Dawson. “Operation Blizzard was an excellent example of what can be achieved when state and federal agencies come together to protect our native Australian wildlife.”

In Western Australia, wildlife officers conducted thirteen inspections and attended a WA Police warrant.

Officers from the Western Australia Parks and Wildlife Service seized two live pythons and a bearded dragon that was successfully returned to the wild. Officers issued two infringement notices totalling $5000.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is also investigating the detection of nine live turtles in an international mail parcel imported from Hong Kong.

“Illegal reptile imports pose a significant biosecurity risk, as they could introduce pests and diseases that can impact on human and animal health, as well as the environment,” said Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Ian Thompson.

“The Department works closely with other agencies to manage these risks at our international airports and mail centres.”

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.