Tainan prosecutors, working in collaboration with other agencies, launched a nationwide crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade from Sept. 25 to Tuesday following tip-offs from a key suspect surnamed Chen (陳).
The investigation resulted in raids of 37 different locations and led to the arrest of another suspect, surnamed Ouyang (歐陽), the prosecutors said yesterday.
Authorities also confiscated 64 birds, including peregrine falcons, black kites, crested honey buzzards, crested goshawks, collared scops owls, Taiwan blue magpies, mountain scops owls, fairy pittas, russet sparrows, bali mynas, plumbeous water redstarts, Taiwan hwameis, and yellow-naped amazons.
The birds are being looked after at various animal protection shelters.
The investigation began in June when police officers discovered that an individual involved in another investigation had a collared scops owl as a pet, the prosecutors said.
The finding prompted an investigation and the following month led the authorities to detain Chen, who at the time had in his possession five radiated tortoises.
Critically endangered due to habitat loss, the tortoise is often poached for food and as such it is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Tainan prosecutors said they have since questioned another 29 suspects involved in the case.
Due to numerous breaches of the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法), Chen and Ouyang remain in custody as there is a possibility they could collude and attempt to destroy evidence, prosecutors said.
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