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Police raid 78 properties - but every bird had flown

Police raided 78 properties in a massive county-wide wildlife crime blitz - but didn't make a single arrest.

Officers from Kent Police revealed today they worked with Interpol to target the illegal trade in endangered reptiles and amphibians.

The intelligence-led operation saw 78 premises in Kent searched and several found to have breached licences for endangered species.

Police say "investigations are ongoing".

Officers from the force's Wildlife Crime unit said they worked throughout September to gather intelligence on the illegal trading of endangered species, such as rare tortoises and newts.

The investigation focused on the trade of the wildlife, retail and wholesale outlets and traders.

Kent Police's wildlife and rural environmental crime coordinator PC Michael Laidlow said: "The majority of reptiles and amphibians are traded legally in Kent.

"Traders of protected endangered species need to show that they were imported lawfully into the EU or derived from such sustainable stock.

"Anyone found breaching regulations could face prison sentences."

Kent Police added it has a wealth of experience in detecting and investigating wildlife crime.

In August, the force assisted Merseyside Police and other agencies into an investigation into an illegal trade in monkeys.

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