Most of the animals seized were suffering from physical and psychological problems, says the Guardia Civil, and other species confiscated included tortoises, coral, macaws, parrots, a boa constrictor and even a starling.
The ‘environmental police’, SEPRONA – part of the Guardia Civil – took away 25 monkeys, of which five were already dead, and arrested one individual in the province of Sevilla, two in that of Murcia and one each in the Alicante province towns of Elche, Torrellano, Agost and Algueña.
Raids were carried out in all these areas, as well as the provinces of Almería and Albacete.
The monkeys were bred in the homes of people connected to pet shops they were sold at, although some went to private buyers – in both cases, they fetched between €1,800 and €2,000 each.
At least 67 monkeys are known to have been sold at profits in excess of €130,000.
Of these, 25 have been recovered and the rest are still being searched for.
Those rescued have been distributed between the primate recovery shelters of Aap Primadomus in Villena (Alicante province) and Arca de Noé in Alicante city.
A total of 20 of the monkeys were White-tufted-ear and Black-tufted-ear Marmosets, a breed native to Brazil and, due to its eye-catching appearance, very vulnerable to trafficking and illegal trade.
Another is a Guinean green monkey, which research shows may be a carrier of the HIV virus.
Two macaws, a red-tailed parrot, four pieces of live coral, a boa constrictor, seven tortoises and a white starling, none of which had any of the required paperwork, have also been seized and placed in specialist animal care centres.
Breeding monkeys and other exotic animals is illegal in Spain except where a specific zoological complex licence is in place.