Israeli Police arrested a woman last week at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv after she was caught attempting to smuggle 70 reptiles into the country, according to an official statement posted last Thursday. Among the rescued animals was a baby anaconda.
Following leads previously uncovered in a covert investigation by border patrol agents, detectives from the airport’s 747 unit waited for the suspect to de-board her return flight. They followed her as she collected her luggage and then arrested her shortly after she exited the terminal.
In a video posted on Twitter, three detectives can be seen apprehending the woman and escorting her away. The video also shows one of the detectives opening the woman’s suitcase. It is filled with what appear to be rolled up socks and clothing bags. The detective unravels one of the socks and a live foot-long striped snake with brown, white, and black markings emerges.
יחידת הבילוש מרחב נתב”ג עצרה השבוע תושבת רמת גן בחשד להברחת עשרות זוחלים ארצה, בהם – נחשי חנק מסוכנים מסוג אנקונדה. pic.twitter.com/j7hdRSnbqC
— חדשות הסקופים. (@Haskupim) June 1, 2023
According to TRAFFIC, an NGO working to ensure that trade in wild species is legal and sustainable, illegal wildlife trade—which the organization calls one of the most profitable criminal activities worldwide—fuels environmental degradation and big losses for local economies. In a report, TRAFFIC found that for every intercepted attempt to smuggle exotic animals, nine wildlife smuggling incidents go undetected.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2020 World Wildlife Crime Report states that nearly 6,000 different species of fauna and flora were seized between 1999 and 2018—with nearly every country in the world playing a role in the illicit wildlife trade.
Reptile smuggling is an ongoing issue at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Last August, three suspects were arrested after entering the airport with hundreds of rare snakes and turtles tucked into their luggage. The apprehended Israeli woman implicated in the most recent reptile smuggling case may face charges of illegally bringing wild animals into the country and violating animal welfare laws, according to a Times of Israel story. The reptiles were transferred to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority for further investigation.
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