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The Spanish Civil Guard intervenes the largest private collection of poisonous and potentially dangerous animals

The Civil Guard, in collaboration with the Local Police-UNIDRON of Telde, has proceeded to arrest a man for alleged crimes related to the protection of flora, fauna and domestic animals and another against collective security for the illegal possession of animals .

The arrest has taken place in the framework of the Naja-Gc operation and a total of 53 protected and poisonous specimens subject to the International Convention on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have been seized.

The intervened animals come from the continents of America, Africa, Asia and Oceania, all of them being protected by the CITES Convention, Appendices I, II and III and EC Regulation No. 338/97, which are in danger of extinction and vulnerable, considered protected species of wildlife.

During the judicial search of the detainee’s home, the existence of facilities to house the different species was verified; three large aquaterrariums, forty terrariums and two rooms equipped for the breeding of rodents and two primates, endangering the life, physical integrity or health of people, as they are in a residential urban area.

The investigation began at the end of 2021 by SEPRONA after obtaining information about the events and subsequent support from UNIDRON, carrying out a drone flight where the existence of a large alligator was found in the upper part of the building. In turn, it was possible to prove the connection of the now detained person with another person with a police record for alleged crimes of trafficking in species, smuggling, document falsification and belonging to a criminal group. It has also been verified that the detainee has the necessary knowledge for the maintenance of poisonous and dangerous reptiles.

Poisonous and dangerous animals

Among the animals seized in the possession of the person under investigation, the following species are identified: an alligator tortoise, a gila monster, a Chinese crocodile lizard, various species of alligators (one broad-headed, two cuvier), an African dwarf crocodile, two pythons reticular, a Chilean and a red-legged tarantula, several species of cobra (one royal, one from the Philippines, one albino monocle, one from the cape, one spitter), several species of vipers (one from Gabon, one sand horned) , two rattlesnakes, one western green mamba, various species of monitor lizards (one Philippine, one blue, one panoptes, one Nile, two reisingeri, two lelinus, two prasinus), two pogonas vitticeps, one tilicua scincoides, one horned iguana , eleven California king snakes, two black brush titis, insects and rodents.

Of the aforementioned animals, it is meant that they are subject to the CITES agreement, of which 12 specimens are poisonous with the possibility of causing death by inoculation of toxins, producing serious injuries, endangering life by trauma or transmission of diseases, proving that At the health level, there is no action protocol or specific antidote for attacks by poisonous reptiles in hospital centers in Gran Canaria.

On the other hand, the possession of these animals can also be a serious danger to biodiversity and that the uncontrolled release of these non-native specimens into the natural environment of the island of Gran Canaria could cause a danger to the natural balance.

These specimens have been deposited in the Cocodrilos Park animal rescue center to provide the necessary care while they are at the disposal of the Investigating Court number 1 of Telde, Las Palmas.

The investigation carried out by the SEPRONA of Las Palmas has revealed one of the most important private collections of poisonous specimens at a national and European level. The alleged perpetrator of the events has been brought to justice, issuing precautionary measures to that effect.

During the investigation, the SEPRONA agents have had the collaboration of the Telde Local Police (UNIDRON), the USECIC and the Judicial Police (EDITE) of the Civil Guard, the CITES Scientific Authority of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge of the Government of Spain (MITECO), General Directorate of Livestock of the Government of the Canary Islands, Municipal Veterinary of the City Council of Agüimes, staff of Cocodrilo Park and the Neotropic Foundation of the island of Tenerife.

Operation Thunder

This police operation carried out by agents of the Seprona of Las Palmas is framed within the framework of a worldwide coordinated operation against the trafficking of species, Operation Thunder, where it is even the first time that in the execution of this type of action, The Canine Unit for the detection of CITES specimens of the Civil Guard is underway.

In the aforementioned operation coordinated worldwide by Interpol, 61 people have been arrested and investigated for trafficking in protected species, crimes against flora and fauna, crimes related to non-compliance with the CITES Convention and the smuggling regulations and false documents . Likewise, 978 specimens of protected species have been apprehended. More than 2,000 inspections have also been carried out in zoos, antique shops, ports and airports.

The first phase has been oriented to the traffic of protected woods, carrying out a total of 816 inspections. Most of the administrative infractions detected have been within the framework of the Forest Law, especially with regard to non-compliance with the Regulation that regulates the wood trade at European level (Regulation 995/2010, EUTR). Among the most relevant actions, it is worth mentioning the intervention of two containers that contained protected wood from Gambia and destined for China, for failing to comply with different regulations (European regulations and/or international agreements). The detected wood species are strictly protected by the Convention on International Traffic in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), that regulates its international traffic for being in a situation of threat. For this reason, they were immobilized, initiating investigations that are still in progress.

Protected Species Trafficking

Illegal trafficking and poaching of wild species is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide. The European Union approved the European Action Plan to combat illegal trafficking and international poaching of these wild species, adapted in Spain to apply the appropriate measures (PLAN TIFIES), in response to the call made by the UN to combat this problem. It has been a major challenge in the field of nature conservation worldwide, which aims to help put an end to this type of illegal activities.

This operation is part of the Spanish Action Plan against Illegal Traffic and International Poaching of Wild Species (TIFIES Plan), and the LIFE GUARDIANES DE LA NATURALEZA project.