LONDON, England -- The government has warned tourists not to fall into the trap of unknowingly smuggling products into the UK that are made from endangered animal or plant species.
Today's reminder follows the arrest of two Britons by HM Revenue and Customs for smuggling live corals and seahorses into the country from Indonesia via Bali.
After 159 live corals and 14 live seahorses were discovered in air freight last month, nine tanks and a small quantity of drugs were found at the suspects' addresses.
Both species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), along with 5,000 other species of animal and 28,000 species of plant.
Kevin Davis, assistant chief investigation officer at the customs regulator, dubbed the smuggling of endangered animals and plants as 'one of the most serious global problems of our time'.
'HMRC takes its role in enforcing international agreements and prohibitions designed to preserve our natural environment very seriously. Anyone tempted to trade in protected creatures and plants should think again,' he said.
A spokesperson for the government added: 'By buying illegal souvenirs made from endangered species products such as ivory and crocodile skin, they are - often unknowingly - helping to boost this illegal trade.'
Eco-crime is believed to have a global value of more than £3.6 billion, with rare parrots often illegally being sold for as much as £24,000 each.
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