Woman Charged After Trying To Smuggle Bizarre Item
A Japanese woman has been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle 19 native lizards out of Australia in a suitcase.
The 27-year-old was arrested at Melbourne Airport after an x-ray revealed the 17 shingle back lizards and two blue tongue lizards in mesh packages within her luggage on Tuesday.
"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," Environment Department spokeswoman Kate Gavens said.
The alleged smuggler was heading back to Japan when Australian Border Force officers discovered the lizards after receiving a tip-off from Hong Kong.
Additional wildlife and cruelty charges may also be laid, Ms Gavens said.
This is the third smuggling attempt the ABF has disrupted because of international cooperation, investigations commander Graeme Grosse said.
"Thanks to information provided by our international colleagues, we've now been able to foil three smuggling attempts across three states, all linked to the same syndicate," Mr Grosse said.
"This is an incredibly cruel trade and the ABF will continue to do whatever we can to stop it."
The woman is due to face Melbourne Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.
The maximum penalty for these offences is 10 years' imprisonment or a fine of $210,000.