Smuggler arrested

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

A MALAYSIAN national, Keng Liang Wong, was arrested in Mexico for smuggling exotic reptiles into the US and was charged for helping smuggle hundreds of live Komodo dragons, Timor pythons, Chinese alligators, and other endangered species. Wong was first indicted in 1992 for smuggling iguanas, lizards and turtles into Florida. He along with two other accomplices has smuggled more than 300 animals worth US $500,000.

The US is considered to be the largest market for endangered reptiles. The Komodo dragon, which is a huge lizard and who's habitat is limited to a few Indonesian islands, sells for US $30,000 in the black market. So is the plowshare tortoise, which is only found in a small section of north-eastern Madagascar. Another lizard-like species from New Zealand, the only surviving member of its taxonomic order for the last 60 million years, is a regular victim of the traffickers. US authorities have been trying to crack down on wildlife trafficking. Mostly, people have been caught smuggling rare exotic birds, but in recent times a number of operations has involved reptiles and amphibians. One of the most notable arrests has been that of Tony Silva, a writer of coffee table books about the plight of rare birds.

Wong has been accused of smuggling reptiles through human couriers, falsifying invoices of shipments, and concealing endangered animals in shipments of legal ones.

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