International wildlife smuggler Anson Wong was detained at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia for smuggling nearly 100 endangered snakes and an exotic turtle onto a plane, according to the Malaysian Star.
The reptiles were discovered slithering out of Wong's broken luggage on the conveyor belt at the airport. Inspectors from Malaysian Airlines found 95 boa constrictors, two venomous rhinoceros vipers and a mata mata turtle. Wong and his luggage were in transit from Penang to Jakarta.
Anson Wong was made famous in the book "The Lizard King", by Bryan Christy, which exposed his trafficking activities. He is one of the most wanted wildlife smugglers in the world, and has previously been jailed for nearly six years in the United States from 2000-2006.
According to "The Lizard King", Malaysian authorities have long been hesitant to reprimand or detain Wong, since the infamous smuggler has contacts within Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the department responsible for enforcing laws against illegal wildlife smuggling. Corruption is one of the major reasons that Malaysia remains one of the world's largest hubs for trafficking endangered species.
Luckily this time international groups have acted early, before Wong could be released, and they have demanded that he be held for an investigation. Since boa constrictors are listed in Appendix II of the International Trade in Endangered Species Act of 2008, the groups are urging authorities to enforce the law. If convicted, Wong could be fined and imprisoned for up to seven years.
"This matter cannot be taken lightly. Malaysia must rise to the challenge to rival those fearlessly involved in wildlife smuggling," said Kanitha Krishnasamy, the Southeast Asia senior program officer TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. "Their attempt at mocking Malaysia's legal system must be dealt with head-on. There is no excuse to be lax on a criminal offense of any nature."
"We look forward to the Wildlife Department and the Malaysian judiciary working together to prosecute this offender to the full extent of the law," said Dr. Dionysious Sharma, World Wildlife Fund Malaysia chief executive officer.
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