Two illegal German reptile traffickers arrested for a second time

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Two German nationals, who were arrested in November 2021 for illegal trade and possession of reptiles and controlled substances, were re-arrested on Thursday on similar charges as they walked out of court.

Daniel Lohde and Marko Drescher have been re-arrested in an Upington court following ongoing investigations against them.

In November 2021, they admitted to trading in CITES-listed species, including endangered armadillo-belted lizards.

Environmental Affairs Ministry spokesman Albi Modise said in addition to heavy fines, the pair were also ordered to pay R350,000 and R100,000 respectively to the ministry to help it tackle the trade illegal succulents.

Modise said the men were first arrested near Askam in the Northern Cape following a multi-agency reptile sting operation.

“They were caught while catching reptiles including armadillo-belted lizards which are an endangered and protected species, giant ground geckos, several other lizards and four tortoises in the North Cape with the intention of killing them. smuggled out of South Africa,” Modise said.

“All turtles are listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora which regulates international trade in these species.”

He said that under a plea deal the pair were found guilty on all four counts, with Lohde sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison or a fine of R175,000, fully suspended for five years and sentenced Drescher to 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of R175. 000, fully suspended for five years.

The sentences were suspended on the condition that neither was found guilty of breaching the North Cape Nature Conservation Act as well as certain sections of the National Environmental Management Act: the biodiversity within five years.

Modise said they were re-arrested following ongoing investigations into similar charges relating to a case in Gauteng.

He said further arrests are expected in the Gauteng case and will appear in Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court in due course.

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