KOTA KINABALU: Authorities in Sabah have foiled an attempt to smuggle 220 crocodiles from Indonesia.
A syndicate smuggling live crocodiles from Indonesia to supply local farms was busted in the south-eastern Tawau district that borders Kalimantan on Saturday (May 18).
The joint operation between the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) was conducted at a swamp near Kg Pasir Putih in Tawau.
Tawau wildlife department officer Sailun Aris said they arrested two Malaysians and two Indonesians aged between 55 and 61 shortly after the reptiles were smuggled in at about 10.30am.
He said five of the crocodiles had died and were kept inside a gunny sack while the rest were still alive and believed to be headed to crocodile farms in the state.
Sailun said the raid was conducted due to intelligence gathered by Esscom.
Crocodiles are protected under Schedule 2 of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment.
Under the enactment, it is illegal to hunt crocodiles, collect crocodile eggs or remove them from the wild under any circumstances.
Only licensed crocodile farms are permitted to sell crocodile meat or leather.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Augustine Tuuga said they will be carrying out in-depth investigations into the activities of the group.