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  Friday, February 21, 2020
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Two U.S. citizens in their sixties have been arrested
Two U.S. citizens in their sixties have been arrested in the Australian city of Perth on charges of attempting to smuggle 1,350 beetles out of the country, the West Australian newspaper said on Thursday.

The discovery followed an anonymous phone call to a customs hotline.

Customs officers in Perth International Airport found some 1,000 tiger beetles, a regulated native species banned from export without a permit, in the luggage of a 62 year-old U.S. tourist. The insects were packed in glass vials hidden inside yoghurt containers.

During questioning the man informed police about his 63 year-old accomplice, who was subsequently detained after another 350 assorted beetles were found in his luggage.

Customs National Manager Investigations Richard Janeczko said the smuggling of rare creatures was a major international problem.

"Australian species are favored targets of wildlife smugglers," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "Wildlife trafficking is a cruel practice and, unfortunately, many animals die before reaching their destination."

Australian insects are popular among overseas collectors because of their bright colors and unique characteristics, he added.

Both men are due to go on trial on Friday. They face a fine of up to $92,000 and / or up to 10 years behind bars if found guilty.


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