Native Australian lizards are found being illegally shipped to Hong Kong in potato chip tubes with socks and plastic tape wrapped around their bodies
- Smuggling ring caught trying to export lizards from Australia to Hong Kong
- Malaysian national Check Wei Javill Chin was jailed for three-and-a-half years
- Chin linked to 21 parcels through CCTV footage and fingerprints on parcels
- He was charged with exporting or trying to export 117 animals to Hong Kong
A smuggling ring has been caught trying to export live native lizards from Australia to Hong Kong by concealing them in potato chip tubes.
Malaysian national Chek Wei Javill Chin was jailed for three-and-a-half years this month after protected species including knob-tailed geckos, blue-tongue lizards and water dragons were intercepted by environmental investigators.
Chin – who was on an expired visa – was linked to 21 parcels containing native reptiles through CCTV footage and fingerprints he left behind on the packages.
He was arrested after being traced to his home in Chatswood on Sydney’s lower north shore by a joint operation between New South Wales Police and Victorian environmental agencies.
Pictured is a bandaged reptile intercepted by customs authorities who busted a smuggling ring exporting Australian native species to Hong Kong
Pictured is one of the potato chip tubes used to conceal the protected Australian animals
Blue-tongue lizards and water dragons were among those discovered by authorities. Malaysian national Chek Wei Javill Chin has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for his role in the illegal operation
Chin was charged with exporting or trying to export 117 animals to Hong Kong after authorities discovered he had also used clothing, shoes and socks to conceal the species.
A 35-year-old Malaysian women was deported in September after being jailed for her role in the smuggling ring.
She was convicted on four counts of attempting to export live native animals.
The trade of native Australian species in overseas pet shops is a lucrative business in an illegal wildlife trade worth billions of dollars globally.
Wildlife offences under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.
‘This man was linked to numerous packages containing lizards and other native reptiles bound and hidden inhumane and harmful ways,’ Federal MP and Customs Assistant Minister Jason Wood said.
Authorities discovered Chin had also used socks wrapped in tape to conceal the animals
Pictured: One of the smuggled lizards emerges from a sock intercepted by authorities. A 35-year-old Malaysian women was deported in September after being jailed for her role in the ring
‘Illegal wildlife trade is a growing multi-billion-dollar global trade that poses serious conservation and biosecurity risks for Australia.
‘We will continue working together to bring it to an end.’
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the department would continue to work with federal enforcement, the DELWP and NSW Police in a bid to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade.
‘We are focused on bringing down smuggling syndicates and prosecuting individuals,’ she said.