Florida Man Pleads Guilty To Trafficking Water Monitors From The Philippines
January 9, 2020
A man who trafficked more than 20 CITES-protected water monitors from the Philippines pleaded guilty to a single count of wildlife trafficking, a violation of the Lacey Act.
Brown R, Siler C, Oliveros C, Welton L, Rock A, Swab J, Van Weerd M, van Beijnen J, Rodriguez D, Jose E, Diesmos A – Brown R, Siler C, Oliveros C, Welton L, Rock A, Swab J, Van Weerd M, van Beijnen J, Rodriguez D, Jose E, Diesmos /Wikipedia
The marbled water monitor (Varanus marmoratus) is endemic to the Philippines.
Akbar Akram, of Holiday, FL imported more than 20 water monitors from the Philippines between January and December 2016 by hiding them in socks, which were sealed with tape and then placed into electronics equipment and shipped under a fake label, according to a press release put out by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs.
According to the press release, Akram admitted he was aware that the reptiles were taken in violation of Philippine law and importing them into the United States violated U.S. law. Akram also admitted to selling some of the lizards to customers in Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
“Akram violated Philippine law and U.S. law by illegally trafficking live water monitor lizards,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute those who flout federal laws and seek to profit from trafficking protected species.”
“The illegal trafficking of protected species is a violation of federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez for the Middle District of Florida. “We will continue to work with our partners, nationally and internationally, to thwart these crimes.”
The DOJ did not mention what species Akram pleaded guilty to trafficking, but the yellow-headed water monitor (Varanus cumingi), the white-headed water monitor (Varanus nuchalis), and the marbled water monitor (Varanus marmoratus), are endemic to the Philippines.