A Canada-bound information specialist who was arrested for selling a pair of tarantulas and pythons yielded 11 more tarantulas of different breeds, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported yesterday.
Operatives of the Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or Task Force POGI nabbed Rommel dela Cruz, 38, in a buy-bust last Wednesday.
Dela Cruz was caught red-handed while receiving marked money as payment for a pair of live tarantulas and pythons he sold at P106,000.
Also confiscated during a follow-up search at his residence in Brgy. Tumana, Marikina City were tarantulas of different breeds which the DENR identified as Brazilian Whiteknee, Mexican Golden Redrump, Mexican Pink, Mexican Redleg, Chilean Rose and Bolivian Redrump.
BMB senior ecosystems management specialist Rogelio Demellentes Jr., said that Dela Cruz was already set to leave for Canada to start a job with a monthly salary of P170,000.
“He was selling off all the tarantulas at a discounted price of P20,000 so he could buy his plane ticket,” Demellentes said, adding that each tarantula could sell at P1,500 on the black market.
The task force also recovered from Dela Cruz five ball pythons (Python reguis), which he was selling at a wholesale price of P86,000.
Ball python, also known as the royal python, is named for its habit of curling itself up into a tight ball.
It is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or simply CITES, in an effort to regulate trade in the species to protect them from becoming threatened or extinct.
NBI-ECD chief Czar Eric Nuqui said Dela Cruz was unable to present any permit or document proving that he was authorized to possess and trade wildlife species.
He said Dela Cruz could be held liable for violating Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, which defines and penalizes illegal possession and trading of wildlife species.
Under the law, violators could face a jail term of up to 12 years and a fine of not more than P1 million.
Meanwhile, NBI-ECD senior agent Abner Tecson revealed that the smuggling of tarantulas happens when these highly-regulated species are shipped from other countries through courier delivery service as spiderlings, which are then fed “until they are matured enough to be sold in the black market.”
“Detection and apprehension of people engaged in this illicit trade is really challenging and the arrests are done when perpetrators are already active in the black market,” Tecson said.