Two men have been arrested and charged this month as part of an ongoing investigation into an illegal wildlife smuggling ring that was dismantled earlier this year.

An early morning raid today has resulted in the arrest of a 35-year-old Deer Park man who was caught posting two lizards to Hong Kong on 29 January this year.

The man was caught on CCTV in Caroline Springs after posting a package that was then intercepted at Melbourne Airport. An anonymous tip off last week gave investigators critical information needed to find the man.

The package, posted in January, contained an Albino Blue Tongue and a Shingleback Lizard taped, stuffed in a sock and put in the bottom of a rice cooker.

Earlier this month another man, a 27-year-old was arrested in Sydney on 16 charges of attempting to smuggle wildlife out of Victoria and NSW to Hong Kong.

Both men are part of an illegal reptile smuggling ring that was intercepted in March this year. The arrests are the result of a lengthy investigation by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, with the Australian Border Force and the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy.

The smuggling syndicate was posting wildlife to Hong Kong, concealed inside toys, chip containers, powdered chocolate tins, deep-fryers and rice cookers.

More than 150 lizards, with a street value of more than $550,000, were seized between June 2018 and February 2019. Since then no further lizards have been intercepted at Melbourne Airport.

Under the Wildlife Act 1975, there are various penalties associated with taking, disposing of or being in possession of protected wildlife, with a maximum penalty of $39,652 and/or 24 months imprisonment.  Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 the maximum penalty for cruelty is $41,305 and/or 12 months imprisonment.

Three people are still at large in relation to this wildlife ring. To report any information, contact Crime Stoppers anonymously by calling 1800 333 000, or online at Crimestoppers Victoria.

Page last updated: 27/07/20