Deadly Aussie snakes, magpies seized from suspected traffickers


Sydney (AFP)

A cache of native Australian animals -- including some of the country's deadliest snakes and a bird known for its swooping attacks -- was seized Wednesday in raids on suspected international wildlife traffickers, police said.

New South Wales police said they had searched six homes across Sydney in connection with an illegal trafficking ring spanning Australia, Asia and North America.

Officers discovered three feared Australian snakes -- a death adder, a python and a red-bellied black -- as well as lizards, turtles and magpies, the black-and-white birds best known Down Under for swooping on unsuspecting cyclists, and unrelated to the covetous Eurasian magpie.

Police said the raids were part of a wider investigation that began last year into a criminal syndicate operating in three continents and involved in wildlife trafficking, large-scale fraud and money laundering.

Two men, aged 27 and 55, were arrested Wednesday. Police said they expected to lay charges.

The animals will be released into the care of professional wildlife handlers.