In India, 10,000 turtles in luggage carried by two smugglers were spared from a possibly grim fate, uncovered packed in three cases at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport in Kolkata.
The two Indian alleged smugglers and their 10,000 turtles in luggage were endangered sea turtles, assistant commissioner of Airport Customs Nabnit Kumar told news sources.
Kumar confirmed the 10,000 turtles’ luggage was sitting on a conveyor belt when, for not described reasons, the cases aroused suspicion — and the animals were discovered crammed into the bags in the thousands:
“10,043 numbers of exotic varieties of the turtles have been seized from two passengers, residents of Chennai, who were coming from China to Singapore, and landed at Kolkata airport.”
The 10,000 turtles smuggled in India are only the latest in what feels like a rash of turtle smuggling incidents, with several other arrests in wide-ranging locales for attempts to illegally transport (and in the process, endangering) threatened sea turtles.
Earlier this month in the US, a man crossing into Canada from Detroit on July 6 using the Ambassador Bridge was found to be smuggling more than 70 turtles, possibly as food or for pet stores, a local source notes.
Ed Grace, deputy director of law enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told the outlet that turtle smuggling arrests are “uncommon, but not rare,” and said:
“It could be a species of turtle that’s located in Madagascar or southeast Asia got smuggled into the United States for a breeder or pet dealer who then sold it to a dealer in Canada… Or the person could have been smuggling them in to be sold at Canadian pet stores.”
Xin Hong Tong, the man arrested in that turtle smuggling incident, faces six months in jail and fines.
This month in Puerto Rico, eight accused turtle smugglers were also arrested following a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service probe into the illegal sea turtle smuggling trade. Many of those incidents involved the sale of turtle meat.
It is not clear why the 10,000 turtles in luggage were being smuggled, or whether they were intended to be sold as meat.