NAPLES, Italy, Sept. 23 (UPI) — The driver of a van carrying 1,700 banned exotic animals such as tropical birds and chameleons has been arrested in Italy, authorities say.
The man, who was pulled over by police Wednesday in Naples, was charged with breaking import and safety laws, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. He reportedly told police he expected to earn nearly $30,000 for the animals, which also allegedly included exotic turtles and Japanese squirrels, the news agency said.
Trafficking in exotic animals allegedly is one of the illegal businesses run by the Mafia, including the Camorra branch in Naples, ANSA said. Camorra chieftains have been found living with lions and tigers in their Italian villas, while a reputed mobster was arrested Wednesday for using a crocodile to scare extortion victims, the news agency said.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International