For the second time this week comes amazing news that another wildlife smuggler’s attempt to illegally transport endangered and at-risk species from one country to another for profit was arrested by authorities.
Ironically, both cases involved luggage, airports and ridiculous amounts of reptiles.
Yesterday’s arrest of Katsuhide Naito was exceptionally significant because according to authorities and conservationists, Naito is “considered a major player in the illegal wildlife trade for allegedly attempting to smuggle more than 250 reptiles out of the country.”
According to an article in New York Post, as well as other media outlets, Naito, who is Japanese, was arrested after customs officers found 181 lizards, 65 snakes and seven turtles in his luggage.
Ridwan Alaydrus, head of law enforcement at Jakarta’s International Airport, confirmed that the wildlife that was seized on Tuesday included one dozen different species; including green tree snakes, Borneo lizards, and pig-nosed turtles, which are endangered and protected under Indonesian law.
Possessing travel documents that indicated that he was a frequent flyer making regular trips to Indonesia, it is thought that on this occasion Naito “allegedly bought the haul from poachers in northern Sumatra and the Indonesian part of Borneo.”
Fortunately, Naito was arrested before boarding a flight to Japan with the smuggled reptiles in tow.
Naito, according to Alaydrus, could now be charged under Indonesia’s animal quarantine law, which carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a fine.
Dwi Adhiasto, the group’s crimes unit manager, also called Naito a “big player” pointing to the fact that he already had a distinctive record; claiming that, in 2005, Naito had also been arrested in Australia for smuggling 39 exotic reptiles from Southeast Asia
Naito pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court and received a 3.5-year sentence, the Australian reported in January 2006. The judge suspended all but 14 months of the sentence and gave Naito credit for time served, UPI reported citing the Paper-AP/The Standard.
As WAN reported earlier in the week, on Monday, Malaysian officials confiscated 330 endangered tortoises from the luggage of an alleged wildlife smuggler at Kuala Lumpar Airport. Fortunately, all of the tortoises were found alive.
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