Disgraced NRL player Martin Kennedy charged over wildlife smuggling ring

Tom Sacre

A former NRL player has been arrested over his alleged involvement in an international wildlife trafficking ring.

Police found snakes and a large amount of cash when they raided Martin Kennedy's Bondi home.

The convicted NRL drug cheat had been granted bail but would not comment on the charges.

On Friday the former Rooster and Bronco was arrested and charged with 41 offences for his alleged involvement in a lucrative reptile smuggling ring.

Disgraced NRL player Martin Kennedy was slapped with 41 charges relating to an alleged wildlife smuggling ring. Source: 7 News
Disgraced NRL player Martin Kennedy was slapped with 41 charges relating to an alleged wildlife smuggling ring. Source: 7 News
Australian wildlife was seized in the raid. Source: 7 News
Australian wildlife was seized in the raid. Source: 7 News

First Assistant Secretary Department of the Environment and Energy Matt Cahill said there were "freshwater turtles, a sting ray, sugar gliders and shingleback lizards" among the seized animals.

Police intercepted a package headed for Sweden last year containing 40 native Australian shingleback lizards.

Another package on its way from Thailand to Australia was carrying more than 200 animals.

Police raided Kennedy's Bondi flat, allegedly seizing cash and animals. Source: 7 News
Police raided Kennedy's Bondi flat, allegedly seizing cash and animals. Source: 7 News

Police allege Kennedy was the man responsible.

When asked about the charges, Kenned only said, "I got no comment at the moment mate."

Kennedy says his love of reptiles started on his family's farm at five years old, when he caught a brown snake.

Keendy had no comment to make on the charges. Source: 7 News
Keendy had no comment to make on the charges. Source: 7 News

In 2012 he bought Australia's biggest snake breeding program, Snake Ranch, which operated legally.

The former NRL forward was due to return to rugby league in December after serving out a 33 month ASADA ban for the use of banned substances.

But he is now facing up to 10 years behind bars.

Kennedy became a fan of snakes after catching a brown snake as a child. Source: 7 News
Kennedy became a fan of snakes after catching a brown snake as a child. Source: 7 News
He bought a snake breeders in 2012, but that was a legal operation. Source: 7 News
He bought a snake breeders in 2012, but that was a legal operation. Source: 7 News

"The illegal trade in wildlife is just another way criminal enterprises work together in order to gain profit," AFP Commander Chris McDevitt said.

Kennedy will face court later this month.