Wildlife criminal jailed for egg smuggling bid
The ‘Pablo Escobar of the falcon egg trade’ has a string of convictions for similar crimes
A prolific wildlife thief has been jailed for more than three years after being caught trying to smuggle 19 rare bird eggs through London’s Heathrow Airport.
Border officials were suspicious after they spotted Jeffrey Lendrum, 57, wearing a heavy jacket during hot weather in London in June last year.
When he was stopped, he admitted he had Fish Eagle and Kestrel eggs strapped to his body as well as two newly-hatched chicks. Each of the eggs can reach up to £8,000 on the black market.
Lendrum, who complained in an interview last year that he had been portrayed in the media as the “Pablo Escobar of the falcon egg trade”, has a string of convictions for similar offences in Brazil, Canada and Africa.
Lendrum had arrived in London on a flight from Johannesburg. He said that he had rescued the eggs from some men who were chopping down trees. Experts dismissed his explanation, saying that that some of the eggs were from birds that nested in cliffs.
Chris Hill, of the National Crime Agency, said: “Lendrum had gone to great lengths to both source and then attempt to conceal the birds eggs. His claims that he was engaged in an effort to save them from deforestation did not hold water.”
Police believe that the ultimate destination for the birds and eggs was the Middle East where they are highly-prized within the falcon market.
Lendrum, an Irish passport holder who lives in South Africa, was previously jailed in 2010 for a similar attempt while trying to smuggle peregrine falcon eggs to Dubai. The eggs were hidden inside socks and strapped to his body with bandages to keep them warm.
He was caught when he was seen to go into the shower in the Emirates Airlines business class lounge at Birmingham Airport, central England, but he did not use any water. He was arrested after a cleaner raised the alarm fearing he was a terrorist.
Lendrum pleaded guilty on Tuesday at a London court of breaching international wildlife rules to prevent smuggling, according to the UK’s Border Force. He was jailed for three years and a month.
Updated: January 10, 2019 08:43 PM