17 January 2017
A ‘prolific’ trader in illegal animal specimens who sold pickled lizards and monkey heads on eBay has been jailed following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Daniel Stocks, who ran a legitimate website selling artificial shrunken heads, used eBay to sell taxidermy specimens under the brand name Killer Curios UK.
The 42-year-old, from Kingkerswell, near Newton Abbot, Devon, was yesterday sentenced to six months in prison at Exeter Crown Court.
Border Force officers alerted the NCA to Stocks after finding a veiled chameleon specimen in a package sent from Philadelphia to Stocks’s address.
Stocks did not have a licence to import the chameleon and NCA officers arrested him and searched his house and the industrial unit he rented.
They found doctored specimens at both locations including a stuffed African white-backed vulture, macaque heads and skulls, monkey tails and monkey paws framed and mounted above the phrase Make A Wish.
The investigation revealed Stocks had been trading in horn bills, leopard cats, langur monkeys and green monkeys in contravention of the CITES laws that govern the sale of controlled specimens.
Stocks claimed to officers that he did not know the CITES rules, but listings he wrote for eBay made highly specific references to the regulations.
He pleaded guilty to four charges relating to the trade in specimens.
Dawn Cartwright, of the NCA’s Border Policing Command, said: “Dan Stocks was a prolific illegal specimen trader who thought the rules on protected species were for others to worry about.
“But those rules are there for good reason, and the NCA takes the criminal trade in protected species seriously. In partnership with the Border Force and the national wildlife crime unit we will make sure traders operating illegally are found and dealt with.”
Grant Miller, Border Force senior officer, national CITES team at Heathrow airport, said: "Cases like this expose an illicit and often cruel trade, which can have a devestating impact on the survival of endangered species.
"Border Force's specially trained CITES officers, working alongside partners like the NCA and the national wildlife crime unit, are vital in preventing the illegal importation of controlled animals and plants and stamping out this type of criminality."
Alan Roberts, of the national wildlife crime unit, said: "This sort of crime is getting increasingly prevalent. It's important that we stamp out the market because of the serious impact on the numbers of species in other parts of the world.
"This is not about a few items that are a by-product of other activity. Animals are killed specifically for this trade."
Images are of Daniel Stocks and then of evidence stills taken from Stocks's business premises.