Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Heathrow wildlife traffickers jailed for 12 months

Posted by: Kevin Heath / 2 days ago

2 Romanian women who were caught trying to smuggle 13 endangered iguanas through Heathrow airport have been jailed for 12 months. The women were caught during border checks at Terminal 5 on 3rd February. The discovery was made as the women transferred from their Bahamas flight to their connection to Dosseldorf in Germany.

Border Force officers found the 13 iguanas stuffed in socks in suitcases. 12 of the reptiles had survived while 1 had died during transit. Romanian nationals Angla-Alina Bita, 26, and Vitora-Oliva Bucsa, 24, were arrested by officers.

The iguanas were identified as San Salvador rock iguanas and only a few hundred of them now remain in the wild.

They appeared in court on Thursday 3rd April at Isleworth Crown Court when they pleaded guilty to trafficking in endangered species covered by CITES regulations. The judge jailed them for 12 months.

Grant Miller, head of the Border Force CITES team, said: “The rarity of this particular species made this an incredibly significant seizure. The iguanas are critically endangered and in effect priceless.

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