Snakes and other reptiles are being smuggled in gnomes.
Snakes alive: Reptiles found hidden in gnomes
June 19, 2007
GARDEN gnomes are known for their ability to travel the world posing in front of landmarks. Now they have been found with illegal reptilian escorts.
Customs and Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service officers have busted a reptile racket in which snakes and lizards were concealed in the hollow spaces of pottery figurines and garden gnomes.
A customs officer was startled on June 10 to discover two snakes and three lizards in a package sent from the United Kingdom to an address in Blacktown in Sydney’s west.
Just one day later a second package concealing five snakes and five lizards inside pottery ornaments was intercepted during an X-ray procedure. The package also came from the UK and was headed to Wilberforce, north-west of Sydney.
Customs National Manager for Investigations Richard Janecko said trafficking wildlife was a serious issue and had serious implications for all involved.
“Such criminal action is also a cruel practice which frequently results in the deaths of animals in transit,” he said.
The reptiles have had to be euthanased because of quarantine concerns.
The maximum penalty for smuggling wildlife is imprisonment for up to 10 years with fines reaching $110,000.