Mon, March 15, 2004
GTA man accused of smuggling reptiles
By TOM GODFREY, TORONTO SUN
A Woodbridge man has been arrested after customs agents seized four rare baby American alligators being allegedly smuggled into Canada stuffed inside a driver's jacket. The accused will appear in Windsor court today to face smuggling-related charges.
"The alligators are in a safe place and are being very well cared for," said Dan Yen, of the Canada Border Services Agency. "They are babies and require extra care."
Yen said the accused was charged Jan. 23 when a vehicle was searched entering Canada from Detroit at the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel.
"The reptiles were found inside the lining of a jacket," he said. "The item was being worn at the time."
Customs officials said an export permit is required from U.S. officials to bring the reptiles into Canada.
"This is not a common occurrence for us," Yen said. "It is the first seizure of alligators I can remember."
He said officials were concerned about the animals' health when they were found. The alligators, which can grow as long as five metres, are native to Georgia and South Carolina.
They are sold for upwards of $200 each on some Internet animal auction sites.
Environment Canada spokesman Gary Colgan said the reptiles are listed as threatened species and his agency is investigating.
Renato Rinomota, 34, has been charged for failure to report an alligator, unlawful possession of an alligator and smuggling. He faces five years in jail or a $5,000 fine if convicted.
Toronto Sun: Alligator Stuffing