The Civil Guard dismantles two criminal groups that trafficked in protected species

More than 300 species of reptiles with the highest international protection have been seized, as well as weapons from the Second World War, with a valuation of more than 800,000 euros

The traffickers used “mules” that carried reptile eggs in suitcases to be able to take animals across the borders of their countries of origin

The Civil Guard has detained and investigated a total of 21 people who regularly engaged in the breeding, possession, trade and trafficking of protected reptiles, including turtles valued at around € 30,000, regardless of the established legal requirements.

The animals came from countries in America, Asia, Africa and Oceania and were imported illegally and introduced into Europe for breeding or marketing.

In order to release species specially protected by international conventions, the detainees made use of falsified documentation or whitewashed with documents of other similar animals from authorized breeding or possession.

International falsification of documentation

The entire framework was based on the falsification of documents necessary for the legalization and registration before the CITES Authorities of the different EU Member States of specimens of protected wildlife, to then commercialize them in the rest of the EU and / or third countries.
From the result of the operations it has been known that some investigated extracted animals from their natural environment, from places as diverse as Mexico, the Amazon Rainforest, North Africa, Australia, South Africa or the Middle East, which were illegally introduced into Europe to their subsequent trade or breeding in captivity.

Network of "mules" and veterinarians

Together with the disjointed groups, it has been possible to dissolve a network of "mules", whose main mission would be to travel to the animals' countries of origin, and once there, export the species using concealment methods. Likewise, a network of veterinarians has been found that would provide false documentation, thereby facilitating the "laundering" of animals obtained through illegal trafficking.
Environmental crime has become one of the most lucrative activities, moving billions of euros every year. In terms of organized crime, it constitutes, along with human trafficking and drug trafficking, one of the most important threats at a global level.
All kinds of species are trafficked (mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, plants …) and the strong demand in some markets has made many of them find themselves, today, in such a critical situation that it has led to authorities around the world to adopt measures to combat this loss of biodiversity.

Collaboration with other organizations

This operation has had the collaboration of EUROPOL, carrying out coordination functions of different actions and analyzes between the related European countries and the Flora and Fauna Support Group of the Rural Agents Corps of Catalonia and is part of the TIFIES Plan, the LIFE GUARDIANS OF NATURE project and has worked closely with the CITES Management Authority.


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