All three species seized by the USFWS are protected under CITES.
A California man was sentenced March 29 to six months house arrest and three years federal probation for smuggling five monitor lizards into the United States from the Philippines. Gayle Simpson, 34, pleaded guilty to one federal count of smuggling monitor lizards that were shipped from the Philippines. Two of the monitor lizards died enroute and one had a crushed foot.
All three species seized by the USFWS are protected under CITES. Palawan water monitor (Varanus palawanensis).
"We hope this sentence sends the message that these actions have consequences," Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Silber said. Silber’s office has prosecuted three cases involving monitor lizards since last winter, according to MyNewsLA.com.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a package addressed to Simpson’s son last year that was labeled as speakers. That package contained three spiny-necked monitor lizards (Varanus spinulosus) , a Samar water monitor (Varanus samarensis) and a Palawan water monitor (Varanus palawanensis). Samar and Palawan are islands in the Philippine archipelago.
A search warrant was issued and executed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which resulted in the discovery of four yellow-headed water monitor lizards and two spiny-necked water monitor lizards. Those reptiles were seized.
All three species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).