Woman Arrested After Allegedly Smuggling 19 Lizards In Her Luggage
A Japanese woman, 27, has been arrested after 19 native reptiles were found in her suitcase at Melbourne International Airport.
Australian Border Force allegedly found the 17 Shingle Back lizards and two Blue Tongue lizards after x-raying her suitcase on Tuesday.
It is alleged she was attempting to smuggle the reptiles out of Australia when she was caught.
The woman was targeted by the ABF and Department of the Environment and Energy after a tip-off from their counterparts in Hong Kong.
Some of the lizards were found to have ticks attached, indicating they may have been caught in the wild, according to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Chief Conservation Regulator Kate Gaven.
“They will be checked by a Vet and donated to schools and other not-for-profit organisations if they can’t be returned to the wild after the finalisation of the legal processes,” she said.
“DELWP is continuing to liaise with the ABF & Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecution about additional wildlife and cruelty charges related to the alleged offences."
The woman was arrested and charged under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
She did not apply for bail and will front Melbourne Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.
She faces up to 10 years in jail or a fine of $210,000.