This footage shows reptile skins and handbags seized by cops along with over 500 endangered reptiles apparently destined for the same fate in an operation targeting illegal breeding gangs.
According to reports, the Spanish authorities also arrested six people in the operation coordinated by Interpol and Europol on a wildlife-smuggling outfit believed to be behind the 4,419 rare reptiles already seized in other countries around the world.
The latest bust in ‘Operation Blizzard’ took place across several properties in the southern Spanish regions of Andalusia and Murcia, according to reports.
Spanish Civil Guard officers seized a total of 627 rare reptiles and arrested six suspects in an operation that spans across 22 countries.
According to local media, 1,500 live reptiles have been seized in Europe and 4,419 worldwide.
Meanwhile, six suspects have also been arrested in Italy.
The reptiles included the Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca), the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) and the African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata), all considered ‘vulnerable’ by the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Of the total 4,419 seized animals, 2,703 were tortoises, 1,059 were snakes, 512 were lizards and geckos and there were also 20 crocodiles and caimans.
The authorities also seized 152 handbags, wallets, belts, medicines and stuffed reptiles.
The Spanish Civil Guard said that the seized animals were part of a large-scale illegal breeding operation.
So far, the countries embroiled in the alleged operation include Australia, Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and United States.
The investigation is ongoing.
The Ananova page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.