Wildlife smuggler who stuffed lizards and turtles into toys gets five-year stretch

A blue tongue lizard commands a premium price from collectors. Photo: Vic government

A blue tongue lizard commands a premium price from collectors. Photo: Vic government

A wildlife trafficker will spend years in jail for jamming turtles, lizards and snakes inside toys and speakers and trying to smuggle them out of Australia.

Zheyuan Qiu, 33, has been handed a five-year jail term for feeding the illegal wildlife trade, while his accomplice Ut Lei Lei, 30, has been handed a two-year community-based sentence.

The pair tried to post 17 packages containing 45 native reptiles to Hong Kong and Taiwan, cruelly bound with things like black stockings and then shoved inside speakers, toy cars and other household items.

They included shingleback and blue-tongue lizards, a red-bellied black snake, carpet and diamond pythons and two turtle species.

Australian Border Force officers seized several of the parcels and the pair were also found to be illegally keeping other endangered species and regulated native animals at their Sydney home.

The NSW District Court said the sentences reflected the gravity of their offences and the undue cruelty inflicted on the animals.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the sentences followed a two-year investigation into criminal syndicates involved in native wildlife smuggling.

“The details of this case are horrendous and unfortunately all too common,” she said.

“Native Australian reptiles are highly sought after overseas in what is a dangerously lucrative market supplying ventures such as overseas pet shops that exclusively sell Australian reptiles.”



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