Colombian police seized 1,004 animals that were to be sold on the black market on Monday. In all, 21 people were arrested. Operation Leopard was supported by the US Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service. According to the authorities, the value of the animals was estimated at about one million dollars.
Lizards, snakes, starfish, chameleons, turtles and fish are among the animals rescued.
“The National Police, in coordination with the US wildlife authorities, has carried out the most important operation to protect protected species in Colombia,” said General Jorge Luis Vargas, Chief of the National Police.
Among the more than 1,000 specimens found by the authorities were Colombian fauna and exotics.
The investigations lasted nearly a year and targeted groups that used social media to illegally buy and sell these animals. Criminals have relied on the complicity of local carriers who hide animals among their cargo, whether by air, land or sea.
Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. According to the country’s police, 5,994 animals that were in the hands of smugglers have been rescued this year alone.
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