Manchester

Man who tried to smuggle rare corals and clams jailed

Corals illegally smuggled into UK
Image caption More than 650 corals and about 60 clams were seized at Manchester Airport

A man who tried to smuggle more than 700 rare and endangered corals and clams into the UK has been jailed.

Alex Montgomery, 23, from Stalybridge in Greater Manchester, was arrested while trying to collect the protected species at Manchester Airport, the Border Force said.

He pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court and was jailed for six months.

A Border Force spokeswoman said the marine life was discovered in 36 boxes after a search of air freight on 4 May.

The corals and clams, which weighed more than 750kg (1,600 lbs), are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

International agreements

More than 650 corals and about 60 clams without any CITES documentation had been sent from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Montgomery, of Mottram Old Road, Stalybridge.

Image caption Some of the smuggled clams measured up to 20cm (8in) in length

The find led Border Force officers to search his business premises in Hyde, where a further 120 undeclared and protected species were found.

All the animals, along with Montgomery's computer, were seized following his arrest.

Border Force's assistant director Vicky Allan said the agency took its role in "enforcing international agreements and prohibitions designed to protect the natural environment very seriously".

"Anyone trading in protected creatures and plants should ensure they have the right paperwork before they import exotic animals into the UK," she said.

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