Two vets and a Costa del Sol pet shop owner among six accused of illegal trafficking of protected species

Image of a green parrot in a cage.

Image of a green parrot in a cage. Credit: vuttichai chaiya/

Six people in the Costa del Sol town of Fuengirola face a total prison sentence of 34 years if found guilty of the illegal trafficking of protected species.

According to the prosecutor’s accusatory document, to which EFE has had access, they are alleged members of a gang that specialised in acquiring specimens of fauna of both protected and non-protected species. These creatures were subsequently sold either in Spain or Morocco.

Among the accused are two veterinarians and the owner of a pet store in the Malaga town of Fuengirola. The defendants had been engaged in the alleged illegal trafficking of protected species since 2017, under the direction of the pet shop owner.

This defendant was not registered as a breeder but supposedly acquired these animals and sold them directly to people residing in Spain.

Where were the animals allegedly being sold to?

He also allegedly arranged their shipment to Morocco, through from the border of Melilla, but without the essential export and import permit.

According to the police investigations, the animals were sometimes temporarily housed in the store. Invoices and other documents were subsequently prepared to provide apparent legal coverage for illegal trafficking. On some occasions they even carried out transportation tasks to Melilla for illegal export.

The prosecutor maintained that the veterinarians collaborated in the illegal trafficking of protected species ‘voluntarily and consciously’.

What else is the gang accused of?

They accused them of systematically preparing health cards for the animals in which the owner was not identified. This was done: ‘with the sole purpose of serving as documentary support to give the appearance of legality to the operation’, they insisted.

One of the veterinarians supposedly acquired up to 210 such documents, none of which were registered in the database of the Government of Andalucia. Only 31 were found in his clinic, so the whereabouts of the other cards remain unknown.

It was also stated that one of the veterinarians acquired a total of 542 pet passports, of which 319 have been registered and the destination of the rest was unknown.

In the work of documentary support for illegal trafficking, this veterinarian supposedly issued certificates for which he was not competent. These included a document for captive breeding that covered the illegal sale of a specimen of fennec.

The other veterinarian allegedly collaborated actively with another of the defendants. He was accused using the pet store for the illegal trafficking of protected species, through the sale of animals without documentation.

Where were the animals acquired from?

Some specimens were acquired in other countries of the European Union. In one of the illegal operations -which was thwarted by Seprona – they were about to board the ferry to Melilla.

As a result, two red-tailed parrots, a military macaw and another red were seized, along with an eclectus parrot, an Egyptian cat, a meerkat, and five species of Madagascar geckos.

Numerous animals were also seized in other searches that were carried out. These included birds, mammals, and turtles, as well as net traps, European passports for animals, health records and cards and microchips, among other items, as reported by

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at