SYDNEY, May 24 (Xinhua) -- A Sydney man has been hit with 169 charges related to animal abuse and trafficking after a police raid uncovered dozens of reptiles hidden inside a residential home.
According to the New South Wales (NSW) State Police on Friday, investigations into the alleged exportation plot began back in March and were headed up by an elite intelligence taskforce -- Strike Force Raptor.
"Following extensive inquiries, investigators, with the assistance of officers from the Public Order and Riot Squad and the NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage, executed a search warrant at Marquesa Crescent, Lethbridge Park yesterday," NSW Police said in a statement.
"Officers located 12 Shingleback lizards, one Stimson's python, three young Monitors, a South American Mata Mata turtle, and two deceased crocodiles."
"The reptiles were seized by authorised wildlife handlers."
Investigators also seized a number of mobile phones and other electronic devices which will now be sent for examination by forensic specialists.
Initially charged with 165 counts of dealing in protected animals, the 25-year-old man was also slapped with two counts of attempting to export a regulated native species without permit, one count of possessing a non-native regulated species, and a final count of animal cruelty.
"It will also be alleged that a further 147 reptiles -- including a Death Adder, 58 Gecko lizards, blue-tongue lizards and 21 bearded dragon lizards -- were seized by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage under a Commonwealth warrant carried out by the Department of Environment and Energy in 2017," the NSW police said.
With investigations still continuing in the matter, the man was granted strict bail conditions and is set to appear in court on June 5.