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January 8

January 8 Florida man guilty of illegal exotic animal trade

TAMPA, Florida (WCTV) – A Florida man admitted in a Tampa court Wednesday that he smuggled more than 20 aquatic lizards out of the Philippines, the Justice Department said in a statement.

The Interior Ministry’s Fish and Wildlife Service has teamed up with the Justice Department in Operation Sounds of Silence, which aims to capture and indict anyone involved in the illegal trade in protected species.

Akbar Arkam, 44, violated the Lacey Law, which prohibits the illegal trade in wild animals. According to court documents, he operated from January to December 2016. The lizards, often sold for beautiful designs, were stuffed into socks and taped with duct tape, prosecutors say. They were then placed in electronic equipment and shipped commercially under false labels.

An employee from Massachusetts will receive the lizards and send them to Akram. The lizards were sold to customers in Colorado, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, officials said.

Operation Sounds of Silence is an ongoing job.

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