Manoa resident arrested for smuggling poison-dart frogs

Published On: Mar 27 2014 05:48:36 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 27 2014 08:20:55 PM HST

Hawaii families living along Pinao Street didn't quite know what to think when their neighborhood was suddenly crawling with law enforcement.

HONOLULU -

Families living along Pinao Street didn't quite know what to think when their neighborhood was suddenly crawling with law enforcement.

Click here for Catherine Cruz's report.

Residents and officers all wanted to know what might be crawling around inside the house.

 Neighbors we talked to believed the resident made a living selling animals online. Initially investigators wouldn’t say what they were looking for or what they seized, but they did cart away more than a dozen sealed aquariums.

But chirping cricket noises coming from the house were a clue.

Late in the afternoon, investigators confirmed it. Those crickets are food and poison-dart frogs are the merchandise.

Agriculture officials say four frogs were found in a shipment sent through the post office. About 20 more were in the home.

Law enforcement officers arrested the 50-year-old resident on charges of trying to smuggle in poisoned dart frogs through the mail.

He was brought in for questioning, and was booked on misdemeanor smuggling charges.

He was later released pending the investigation.

A check of on line sites referred to the suspect as a collector  and seller of rare fish and frogs.

All live animals imported into the state require a permit from the Department of Agriculture.

Poison-dart frogs are native to Central and South America.

Officials said while there are some colonies of poison-dart frogs that are found in some on Oahu and Maui, it is illegal to transport them within or out of the islands.

During this transport, one of the aquariums broke and a couple of frogs tried to make a break for it.

Fortunately, they were quickly contained.

The state has an amnesty program allows people to turn in illegal animals without being prosecuted. If you know of anyone who has illegal animals in their custody you can call the states Pest hotline at 643-PEST.

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