A Malaysian man known as the “Lizard King” was arrested on Aug. 26 after trying to smuggle 95 live boa constrictors out of the country.
Anson Wong was only caught after the suitcase containing the snakes broke open on a baggage carousel in the Kuala Lumpur airport. Wong had been on a flight from the northern resort island of Penang and was heading to Indonesia.
Wong, 52, also had two vipers and a turtle hidden in containers and wrapped in cloth inside his bag.
Earlier this week, a court fined him $60,000 and sentenced him to six months in prison. But now Malaysian prosecutors are appealing, saying the fine isn’t enough to deter future trafficking.
Wong’s nickname of the “Lizard King” comes from his long history as a smuggler of exotic animals. In 2001, a U.S. court sentenced him to almost six years in prison for running an animal-smuggling ring that prosecutors said imported and sold more than 300 protected reptiles native to Asia and Africa. Wong was also arrested in Mexico in 1998.
In Malaysia, Wong faced a maximum jail term of seven years and up to $319 million in fines. Wildlife groups said that the judge’s sentence is too lenient.
“We are disappointed. The sentence is too lenient for someone who is smuggling out protected species,” Abdul Majid Hamzah, prosecution chief at the attorney-general’s chambers, told The Associated Press. “We cannot take this lightly as it reflects very badly on Malaysia.”[via]