Wildlife kingpin who traded from Penang

Posted on September 7, 2010. Filed under: Laws and Regulations |

-The Star-

Nicknamed the “Lizard King”, “Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade” and “Asian wildlife kingpin”, Anson Wong began his foray into the wildlife trade by exhibiting reptiles at the now-defunct Bukit Jambul Reptile Sanctuary, a registered company that he and his wife owned.

From the early 1990s, Jones Road in Penang was the operating address for a host of companies linked to Wong, among them Sungai Rusa Wildlife, CBS Wildlife and air cargo operator Aerofleet.

In 1998, Wong was lured to Mexico to seal a deal with an undercover agent from the US Fish and Wildife Service, who posed as a buyer.

Codenamed Operation Chame­leon, undercover agents infiltrated Wong’s network, which imported and exported more than 300 protected species via Penang by concealing them in express delivery packages, airline baggage and large commercial shipments of legally declared animals.

He was arrested but fought a US order for his extradition for two years.

He failed in the end and was prosecuted in the United States on June 7, 2001, when he was handed a 71-month jail term and fined US$60,000 (RM187,000).

Wong was also banned from selling animals to anybody in the United States for three years after his jail term.

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