Argentina snakes on plane arrest sparks smuggling probe

December 29, 2011


Argentina snakes on plane arrest sparks smuggling probe

BBC News 

Argentine authorities are tracing a suspected major animal trafficking ring after a Czech man was caught trying to smuggle hundreds of snakes and other exotic animals out of the country.

Karel Abelovsky was arrested in early December as he tried to board a flight to Spain from Buenos Aires.

Suspicions were raised when staff manning the airport X-ray machine at Ezeiza airport saw his suitcase moving.

It was found to contain some 250 animals, including 10 boa constrictors.

“The airport workers couldn’t believe it when they saw the movement inside the suitcase. It was like a cartoon,” a source at the offices of Judge Marcelo Aguinsky told the Associated Press news agency.

Flight risk
The animals – including insects, spiders, lizards, venomous snakes and snails – were all native to Argentina or neighbouring countries. Some were reportedly protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

They were found packed into labelled plastic bags – some were already dead from lack of oxygen and others would probably suffocated had they travelled in the plane’s unpressurised cargo hold.

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