Three endangered iguanas, one man and one prosthetic leg: the ingredients needed to get past security at an airport – apparently. That’s according to an American citizen named Mr James. He reportedly told an undercover agent that he managed to smuggle highly endangered reptiles using a specially created compartment inside his prosthetic leg. He also told the agent that he sold three of the banded iguanas for $32,000 four years ago. Mr James could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors began an investigation into Mr James’ affairs after the United States Fish and Wildlife services received a tip off, informing them that the Californian was in possession of the iguanas. Subsequently a full-scale, undercover operation was launched.
When the suspect’s house was searched in July, agents also found a further four banded iguanas.
According to the BBC –
“Officials say they think Mr James was breeding the animals for sale.
“That’s what we believe has been going on,” Assistant US Attorney Joseph O Johns told the Associated Press news agency. “Mother Nature has taken her course.”
The Banded Iguana (Brachylophus fasciatus), is highly endangered and is therefore protected under an international treaty regulating trade in endangered species. The reptile is noted for its bright green skin.
The iguanas found in the apartment are due to be placed in a breeding programme in the US.
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