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September 7, 2015
The Ministry of Environment of Ecuador reported that a man who tried to smuggle 11 marine and land iguanas from Galapagos was arrested in Puerto Ayora on Sunday, September 6. According to officials, the man captured the iguanas while posing as a tourist on Santa Cruz Island. He was stopped in Puerto Ayora where the iguanas were found packed in a sack in the back of his vehicle.
Danny Rueda of the Galapagos National Park Directorate stated, “There are two individual (iguanas) who are under great stress, but their condition is good. The land iguanas were evaluated, measured, and weighed.” The arrest is the result of a three-month investigation by the Environmental Ministry of an alleged international network of wildlife trafficking, an activity that is one of the world’s most profitable on the black market, after drug trafficking and illicit weapons.
According to Ecuadorian authorities, the suspect is a Mexican citizen with a criminal record for wildlife trafficking. In 2010, he served 18 weeks in a New Zealand prison in 2010 for illegally collecting reptiles. He faces up to three years in prison in Ecuador for attempting to smuggle a protected species under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.