Wong previously served five years in U.S. prison, after being nabbed by an extraordinary international undercover investigation by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service called Operation Chameleon, considered one of the most successful in history. [You can read about this extraordinary sting operation in last January's National Geographic, in writer Bryan Christy's story, 'The Kingpin".] But Wong's wife continued to operate the smuggling network while her husband was in prison, and Wong returned to Penang in 2003 to resume his criminal activities. "Nothing can be done to me," Wong boasted then to an undercover agent. "I could sell a panda -- and, nothing. As long as I'm here, I'm safe."
He was caught this time by an alert airline security officer [Hear! Hear!] who noticed the broken lock on his luggage, and found it to be full of 95 boa constrictors.
The good news is that traffickers are no longer safe from prosecution in Malaysia. Wong was convicted by Malaysian court this week under a new law designed to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade. Link
(Image credit: Mark Leong/National Geographic)