Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Australian outlaw motorcycle gangs are moving into the illegal trade of protected spiders and snakes because of the high returns and low penalties if caught

Australian outlaw motorcycle gangs are moving into the illegal trade of protected spiders and snakes because of the high returns and low penalties if caught, The (Sydney) Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Officers of Strike Force Raptor -- set up two years ago by the News South Wales state police department to target the illegal activities of biker gangs -- said cops often found illegal fauna during raids on gang premises.

An American corn snake, a Chinese soft-backed turtle, a Mexican tarantula, four tree frogs and a chameleon dragon were seized when officers raided a property in Sydney linked to the Rebels' bikie gang last week.

One officer said he had recently arrested a biker associate in the state's North Coast region with a huge number of illegal reptiles and animals. He also had a large stash of weapons.

"[Bikers] also like to have the snakes and spiders for image as much as for profit-making," the officer said.

The illegal buying and selling of protected fauna has been identified as the third largest illegal activity worldwide, behind running drugs and guns.

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