Authorities in Brazil demanded the United Kingdom extradite a man dubbed the “Pablo Escobar of Eggs” on charges of the attempted trafficking of endangered falcon eggs.
Jeffrey Lendrum, 58, made a living for three decades by smuggling fragile eggs from the nests of rare birds of prey to wealthy international clients.
Having been arrested five times across three different continents, Lendrum finally faced retribution when he was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport in possession of 19 eggs worth approximately £100,000.
After being searched, police found that Lendrum was wearing a sling made from bandages under his clothes that were concealing and keeping warm 19 eggs belonging to vultures, falcons, and kites as well as two newborn African fish eagle chicks.
He was recently sentenced by British courts to three years and one month in prison. However, authorities in Brazil are seeking to extradite him to face further charges over his arrest in 2015 when he attempted to board a flight from Sāo Paulo to Johannesburg with eggs of peregrine falcons.
Prolific wildlife criminal, Jeffrey Lendrum, has today been sentenced to three years and one month in jail after being apprehended at Heathrow Airport with 9 rare eggs and two newly-hatched chicks strapped to his body. Congratulations to all involved! #WildlifeCrime pic.twitter.com/vPVmN698yk
— ifaw United Kingdom (@IFAWUK) January 10, 2019
He appeared at Westminster Crown Court on Wednesday via videolink from HMP Wandsworth for an initial extradition hearing. His lawyer, Florence Iveson, protested with the judge that his client would be placed in a cell with over 20 other prisoners, each entitled around 2.25 square meters of personal space.
As well as their poor conditions, Brazilian prisons are also notorious for their shocking levels of violence, with rivalries between the country’s drug gangs leading to regular outbreaks of rioting that have left hundreds dead and seriously wounded.
“In the history of Brazilian extradition matters, there has been a failure to ultimately provide suitable assurances,” Iveson said.
Lendrum is wanted by Brazilian authorities for skipping bail in 2016 after being handed a jail sentence of four years and six months’ jail time for his smuggling activities. He was previously jailed for 30 months by Warwick Crown Court after being caught similarly trying to smuggle peregrine falcon eggs from Birmingham airport to Dubai.
Many of Lendrum’s clients live in the Middle East, where peregrine falcon’s and other rare types of bird can be sold for tens of thousands of dollars. A former member of the Rhodesian army’s special forces, he once carried out a dramatic egg heist from a helicopter. He is well known by conservationists around the world and is the subject of a book by Josh Hammer entitled The Falcon Thief.
Jeffrey Lendrum’s coat was unseasonably heavy. He was carrying nine rare birds’ eggs, worth up to a total of £100,000.
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) March 29, 2019
Lendrum is scheduled to appear at Westminster magistrates court for a further bail application hearing on 30th January.