Four Mississippi alligators have been seized at the French-Spanish border after having been transported in a van by two German traffickers.
The traffickers have now been arrested and taken to the gendarmerie de Pollestres (Pyrénées-Orientales).
The illegal cargo was picked up by customs officers at the péage barrier at Boulou (Pyrénées-Orientales). After calling for backup from the security reserve at the CRS, the officers searched the vehicle and found four live reptiles.
The van was immediately impounded, and a biodiversity expert called to analyse the condition of the reptiles and ascertain their species.
Bruno Parissier, customs lead inspector, said: “At the same time, the drivers confirmed that they were transporting Mississippi alligators.”
The animals are a protected species, and transporting them in this way carries heavy sanctions. After questioning, it was found that the traffickers had no “valid motive” for transporting the animals.
The alligators have now been taken to a crocodile farm in Pierrelatte (Drôme), where they are said to be in good health.
The American alligators are at risk of extinction, and suffered from significant population decline throughout the start of the 20th century. Their numbers only began to climb again from the 1960s, due to protections put in place.