Spanish cops have seized the largest ever private collection of poisonous animals and arrested one man for keeping 53 protected specimens in his urban home.
The operation, which started at the end of 2021, resulted in the arrest of one man, name not reported, in the municipality of Telde on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria on 26th February.
According to the police, the 53 seized animals came from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania, and were all protected by CITES Convention (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
Among the 53 specimens were an alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii), a gila monster (Heloderma suspectum), a Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus), various species of alligators, an African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis), two reticulated pythons (Malayopython reticulatus), tarantulas, several species of cobra, several species of vipers, two rattlesnakes, one western green mamba (Dendroaspis viridis), various species of monitor lizards, two central bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), one rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta), 11 California kingsnakes (Lampropeltis californiae), insects, and rodents.
The police said: “Twelve specimens are poisonous with the possibility of causing death by inoculation of toxins, producing serious injuries, and endangering life by trauma or transmission of diseases.
“On the other hand, the possession of these animals can also be a serious danger to biodiversity and the uncontrolled release of these non-native species into the natural environment of Gran Canaria could pose a risk to the natural balance.”
The specimens seized have been taken to the Cocodrilo Park Gran Canaria animal rescue centre to provide the necessary care while the authorities investigate the case.
In the detainee’s home in a built-up residential area, the police also found three large aquaterrariums, forty terrariums and two rooms equipped for the breeding of animals.
The police said the man is suspected of cooperating with an accomplice with a criminal record of wildlife trafficking, smuggling, document falsification, and being a member of a criminal organisation.
The investigation is ongoing.