The attempt to smuggle more than 200 live animals — snakes, tortoises, squirrels, spiders, lizards and even a parrot — inside three suitcases was bold, but also dumb.
He "was stopped after the regular luggage scanning process at the airport showed images of an array of animals stuffed inside his three black bags," the international wildlife monitoring group TRAFFIC said in a statement Thursday.
What surprised TRAFFIC was that the man expected to make it through security.
"It's not unprecedented to find numbers — sometimes even hundreds — of live animals inside luggage like this," TRAFFIC spokesman Richard Thomas told msnbc.com. "What makes this case unusual is the wide variety of wildlife in the cases. Animals like tortoises are usually taped up to keep them from moving, and being detected, but quite how the man in this instance expected not to be found out is quite extraordinary."
- 88 Indian Star tortoises
- 34 ball pythons
- 33 elongated tortoises
- 22 common squirrels
- 19 bearded dragons
- 18 baboon spiders
- 7 radiated tortoises
- 6 Argentine horned frogs
- 6 mata mata turtles
- 4 spiny tailed lizards
- 4 striped narrow-headed turtles
- 3 aldabra tortoises
- 2 boa constrictors
- 2 Sudan plated lizards
- 2 corn snakes
- 2 king snakes
- 1 ploughshare tortoise (world's rarest turtle)
- 1 pig-nosed turtle
- 1 African gray parrot
- 1 milk snake
- 1 hog nosed snake
The suspect "admitted to authorities that he had purchased the animals from Chatuchak Market," TRAFFIC said, referring to an outdoor trading area in Bangkok where rare and endangered species are bought and sold.
"One really has to question how Chatuchak Market, which is located just down the street from both Wildlife Protection and Nature Crime Police Offices, can continue these illegal mass sales," TRAFFIC regional director William Schaedla said. "The situation is totally unacceptable in a country that claims to be effectively addressing illegal wildlife trade."
"Some retailers have openly acknowledged to TRAFFIC staff that many of the species they sell have been illegally obtained and even offer advice on how to smuggle them out of the country," TRAFFIC stated, "in contravention of national laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora."
The suspect remains in custody, TRAFFIC noted, and is expected to face a variety of smuggling charges that could lead to fines and/or several years in prison.
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