ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Postcard from Colombia: turtle and frog smuggler goes to jail

"The illegal wildlife trade is the third biggest form of smuggling from Latin America, after the illegal smuggling of drugs and arms" says a Colombian expert. And now genetic material can be "hidden under your nail".

Lisbeth Fog

Denis González-Ayarza, a citizen of Panama, is about to go to jail in Colombia. He was caught on 12th May at the International Airport in Bogotá, where he was trying to smuggle out 344 'mata-mata' turtles and 195 tiny Dendrobates sp. frogs in his suitcase.

The animals were severely dehydrated. They had been taken from wet, humid conditions in one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world, in the Chocó region. According to Captain Wilson Pardo-Salazar, from the one-year-old Environmental Crimes Investigative Group of the Police Department, each animal would have cost González-Ayarza about US$1, whereas abroad they would fetch US$60-200, a profit of US$30 000-100 000 in one suitcase.

González was convicted of trafficking in wild animal species, an action that the recent Article 242 of the Colombian penal code penalizes with between three and eight years in jail. As soon as the jury decides on González'...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?
ADVERTISEMENT