Nashua, NH man pleads guilty to smuggling endangered lizards into Massachusetts

NASHUA, N.H (WHDH) - A Nashua, New Hampshire man has pleaded guilty to smuggling live water monitor lizards into the U.S. from the Philippines.

Derrick Semedo pleaded guilty federal court in Boston Tuesday to one count of wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Acy, according to Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.

Semedo admitted to illegally importing 20 Lizards by having them hidden in socks in the back of audio speakers or other electronic equipment that was then shipped to him in Massachusetts.

Semedo also admitted that he sold some of them to customers, including customers in Colorado, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

“To remove members of endangered species from their natural habitat and illegally sell them in the United States is harmful to the animals, their native habitats, and the new ecosystems they have unwittingly invaded,” Assistant Attorney General Clark said in a statement. “The Department of Justice remains determined to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that these endangered animals are protected.”

Lelling said, “Endangered species are called that for a reason. Illegally trafficking a protected species in violation of United States and international law is callous and short-sighted. This office will continue to target those who exploit protected animals and ecosystems for personal gain.”

Exotic pet traders seek water monitor lizards due to their attractive patterns, unique colors, intelligence, and rarity.

(Copyright (c) 2019 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)