A TOTAL of 300 rare and protected reptiles worth around €800,000 on the black market have been rescued by the Guardia Civil in a pan European and Europol operation with 21 people from two criminal groups arrested.
There continues to be a huge market for protected wildlife across the world even though the international CITES agreement restricts the capture and transportation of many different species.
The traffickers had a number of different ways of bypassing the law, with ‘mules’ transporting eggs across borders which were hatched and then used for breeding or use of fake documentation (supplied by ‘tame’ vets) which allowed the reptiles to be imported into Spain.
Incredibly, amongst the reptiles found was a Giant Tortoise (an endangered species found only on the Galapagos Islands and the Seychelles Islands of Aldabra and Fregate) which has a lifespan of up to 200 years.
In addition to the reptiles, the two groups responsible also possessed a number of old but working firearms which have been confiscated.
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