At Crown Square Crown Court on Wednesday (22 May), 23-year-old Alex Montgomery of Mottram Old Road, Stalybridge in Greater Manchester was sentenced to six months for trying to smuggle over 750 kilograms of rare and endangered corals and clams from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Montgomery pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to smuggle the animals after he was arrested by officers from Border Force at the airport in May last year.
Over 650 species of live hard corals and around 60 live clams, some which were 20cm long, were found in 36 boxes labelled “Marine fish and Soft Corals.” Further investigations revealed 120 protected species at his business premises at Rowe Cross Industrial Park, Mottram in Hyde. These were seized along with his computer, which had information regarding his business dealings with foreign suppliers.
The animals, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), were discovered in air freight sent from Vietnam as Border Force officers examined the cargo that arrived on a flight on Friday 4 May.
None of the undeclared items had any accompanying CITES documentation and were consequently seized.
Vicky Allan, Assistant Director of Border Force, said:
The illicit trade in endangered animals is a serious contributory factor to the threat of extinction faced by many endangered species.
Border Force takes its role in enforcing international agreements and prohibitions designed to protect the natural environment very seriously.
Anyone trading in protected creatures and plants should ensure they have the right paperwork before they import exotic animals into the UK.
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should contact the Border Force hotline on 0800 59 5000.