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Snakes in the grass - OMCG bikies trade in illegal fauna

BIKIES are moving into the illegal trade of protected spiders and snakes because of the high returns and low penalties if caught.

The illegal buying and selling of protected fauna has been identified as the third largest illegal activity worldwide, behind running drugs and guns.

Officers of Strike Force Raptor - set up two years ago to target the illegal activities of bikies - said they often found illegal fauna during raids on gang premises. An American corn snake, a Chinese soft-backed turtle, a mexican tarantula, four tree frogs and a chameleon dragon were seized when officers raided a property linked to the Rebels' bikie gang last week.

The chameleon dragon is on the worldwide endangered species list.

Police also found cannabis leaf and seed, hashish and an unidentified white powder. Two motorcycles were seized, including one reported stolen.

A 34-year-old Prospect man has been charged with possessing and supplying a prohibited drug, possessing prohibited fauna, having goods in custody and receiving stolen property. He was granted conditional bail to appear at Blacktown Local Court on April 28.

One officer said he had recently arrested a bikie associate on the North Coast with a huge number of illegal reptiles and animals. He also had a large stash of weapons.

"[Bikies] also like to have the snakes and spiders for image as much as for profit-making," the officer said.

In the past two years, officers from Raptor have arrested more than 1300 bikies for criminal offences.

The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday that bikies are diversifying into gyms and nightclubs to launder money and distribute drugs.


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