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: Australia nabs two for smuggling beetles



From: Reuters
Published April 10, 2008 03:55 AM

Australia nabs two for smuggling beetles

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Two men from the United States have been arrested and charged with trying to smuggle about 1,300 native beetles out of Australia in empty yoghurt containers, customs officials said on Thursday.

The men, aged 62 and 63, were detained at Perth airport in Western Australia state after customs officers found up to 1,000 tiger beetles hidden in one of set of luggage, and more than 300 beetles in another case.

"The beetles were contained in glass vials concealed inside five empty yoghurt containers," customs manager of investigations Richard Janeczko said in a statement.

Investigators said the beetles were believed to be native species which cannot be exported without a permit. Australian species are popular with wildlife smugglers due to their bright colors.

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The two men, one from Florida and one from Massachusetts in the United States, could face a maximum fine of A$100,000 ($92,000), or 10 years in jail, if convicted.

($1=A$1.09)

(Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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