By John Smith • 20 December 2017 • 9:43
A COMBINED operation with EUROPOL has seen the Seprona division of the Guardia Civil break up an international group of animal traders said to have earned €500,000.
Investigations have taken place in a number of countries in Africa and Latin America especially Mexico and more than 2,000 birds and animals have been freed during the activities of Operation Suzaku.
Spain was a major target for the smuggling of exotic birds from 18 different countries with an estimated mortality rate of 50 per cent of all of the birds transported due to the poor conditions in which they were smuggled.
The leader of the gang – who was one of 29 people arrested – is a Spanish citizen resident in Alava in the Basque Country who had a criminal record, including animal smuggling and it is believed that by way of payment for the exotic birds, he allegedly smuggled protected birds out of Spain to exchange for those he wanted from Africa and Latin America.
To avoid being discovered, the gang used several points of entry to airports in Spain with birds packed into suitcases and as a toucan for example was being obtained for as little as €50 and sold for at least €3,000, they could afford the large number who died in transit.
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Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica.
Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene.
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