GUARDIA Civil are investigating a Roquetas de Mar resident suspected of smuggling protected species into the province from Africa.
Officers found two dead and decomposing pangolins, or scaly anteaters in a suitcase which had been kept in an airline lost baggage storage area, and which the owner was claiming back.
Identified as 25-year old A.A.E., she had checked in the case in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea for a flight to Madrid and with a stopover in Casablanca in Morocco, which is where it got misplaced. Hence she did not check it in for the flight to Almeria.
Once the case had been located the 25-year old claimed she had nothing to declare, but when officers opened it up they found the dead anteaters minus their entrails and their scales, wrapped in plastic and concealed among clothing.
Animal Health and the SOIVRE external trade inspection, surveillance and regulation service identified the two creatures as pangolins, an animal covered by The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). It is in fact catalogued as in serious danger of extinction due to the high demand for its scales on the black market.
Given the state of decomposition of the anteaters and the risk they could be carrying some kind of disease, they were handed over to Customs under a 2016 European regulation covering the introduction of products of animal origin into the EU.
A.A.E. faces charges for a crime related to flora and fauna and for the illegal trafficking of a protected or in danger of extinction species.