29 Mar 2010

Remaining gecko smugglers sentenced

5:09 pm on 29 March 2010

The last two men involved in a three-man gecko smuggling operation were jailed on Monday by a Christchurch judge, who told them they were no better than ivory smugglers.

Gustavo Toledo-Allbarran of Mexico and Thomas Price of Switzerland were each sentenced to 18 weeks' jail for taking 16 jewelled geckos from Otago Peninsula.

Toledo-Allbarran and Price wer caught with the geckos in February.

Their roles had been to hunt and secure the animals, before passing them onto their collegue Manfred Bachmann, who was to courier them overseas.

Bachmann, a German man who had been living in Uganda, is already serving 15 weeks in jail.

But all of the men would have spent longer behind bars if it were possible.

In sentencing on Monday, Judge Raoul Neave said the crime of smuggling warranted tougher penalties and he would like to be able to financially punish those involved as a deterrent to others.

The judge told the two men their dirty work added to the destruction of unique and native wildlife across the world.