A Florida man has pleaded guilty to his part in a trafficking scheme in which live water monitor lizards were concealed inside electronic equipment and smuggled from the Philippines to the United States, including to Connecticut, according to federal officials.
Court records show 44-year-old Akbar Akram pleaded guilty Wednesday in Tampa federal court to one count of wildlife trafficking.
The Justice Department says Akram admitted to importing more than 20 live lizards in 2016. He avoided customs authorities by placing the lizards in socks, which were sealed with tape and concealed inside electronic equipment and shipped under a false label. The equipment was transported through commercial carriers to Akram's associate in Massachusetts. Some of the reptiles were sold.
As part of his plea, Akram admitted that he knew the monitor lizards he received had been taken in violation of Philippine law, and that the import violated U.S. law, according to federal officials.
Akram also admitted that upon receiving the monitor lizards, he sold some of them to customers, including in Colorado, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, authorities said.