Iguana smuggler goes to jail | May 23rd, 2013

A problem that New Zealand also faces – the smuggling of native species.

Press Release from Galapagos National Park  4-2-2013                                                        Dirk Bender Sentenced to four years in prison. 

The German citizen Dirk Bender will serve a sentence of four years in prison as indicated by the President of the Court which found him guilty of the crime of attempting to export native species from Galapagos. The Judges made clear that the sentence should be served in Guayaquil, as Galapagos has no suitable prison.  The time he has already spent in detention in Galapagos will be deducted from the sentence.

Dirk Bender was stopped in the airport in Baltra in July 2012, when he was found to have four endemic Galapagos Land Iguanas Conolophus subcristatus in his luggage. The Court also ordered Bender, following the specific request of the Director of the Galapagos National Park, Edwin Naula, to pay the costs and damages resulting from his action.

The judges from the Galapagos Criminal court No. 1 ordered that the sentence be served in Guayaquil.

Comment from FOGNZ.

This sentence is intended to send a very clear message, that species smuggling is a very serious offence and is very damaging to the Galapagos and its unique Wildlife. It is a real victory for the Galapagos National Park which has to contend with a judiciary which is not always as supportive as it might be.

Bender is a repeat offender and a serial animal smuggler. In December 2011 he was caught by Fiji customs attempting to smuggle a pregnant Fiji Crested Iguana out of Fiji, he was fined $15,000 for that offence, having previously had 8 iguanas confiscated from him by Fijian police.