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247 Animals, Some Very Rare, Found in Suitcase

247 Animals, Some Very Rare, Found in Suitcase

A Czech man was apprehended in Argentina attempting to smuggle a suitcase containing 247 animals, many of them exotic creatures, on board a transatlantic flight on December 7. 51-year-old Karel Abelovsky was attempting to board a flight to Madrid from Buenos Aires when baggage X-ray technicians and airport staff discovered that his suitcase contained 200 reptiles and mollusks including nine species of poisonous snakes (among them, South American pitvipers) and 15 venomous vipers, including two yararas which can be up to five feet long and several young boas.

Many of the animals were†packed in clear plastic containers. †Two were found dead and many more would most likely not have survived the flight due to a lack of oxygen, if the suitcase had been placed in the airplane’s cargo area.

Some of these animals are reportedly very rare and, indeed, protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Abelovsky has been charged with attempted smuggling and could face up to ten years in prison. He is suspected to be part of an exotic species smuggling ring.

The July 25 Guardian lists a number of other instances of exotic animal smuggling, including†431 turtles, crocodiles and tortoises and a†tiger cub concealed among a load of stuffed tiger toys in the suitcase of a Thai woman seeking to travel to Iran. Indeed, rare-animal trafficking is†Thailand’s second most lucrative illegal trade after drugs, according to a spokesman for the country’s environmental crimes unit; Thailand has indeed become an “international hub” for the illegal animal trade. While rare animals are usually sold as pets in Middle Eastern countries and also in Spain, they are sought after in East Asia for their purported medicinal value. While species trafficking is a crime in many countries, the penalties can vary widely and many countries lack sufficient resources to enforce their laws.


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Photo of a pitviper from Costa Rica by ggalice

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5:06AM PDT on Jun 26, 2014

Can the human be kept in suitcases like this?

7:42AM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Animal smugglers need to be prosecuted to that fullest extent of the law...

3:01PM PST on Dec 13, 2013

Unbelievable - just speechless as to what people will do/have done in cases like these. What do people not understand about the words NO SMUGGLING? They/he did not THINK that they/he would get caught - bringing any ANIMAL/s in a suitcase, much less 247 of them? (some died in the process which is unacceptable, as it is.) As far as prison time and fines, the way I see it, he should get the maximum (for both) that the law allows. Will the punishment truly fit the crime? Probably not. When will the humans (those who do such things) ever learn? ~ "Je ne sais pas!"

2:27PM PST on Dec 9, 2013

Why am I not surprised? Notice they said he COULD spend time in jail. Dollars to doughnuts, he will either get probation (if they have it there) or get off altogether. He should be put in the zoo with a cage full of the reptiles he was moving and left there. That would be a good way to show him that they mean business.

3:57AM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

10 years is too short. Smugglers should get 25 years minimum... Maybe there will be greater disincentive to do it

4:43AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

12:44PM PST on Dec 10, 2012

I do not approve of smuggles, but I understand that some nationalities don't have much of a choice when it comes to employment. Some of them are desperate to earn money.
For me is very hard to understand how anyone can buy those smuggled animals. In my opinion those people who buy those animals should pay hefty fine as well if they get caught.

1:35PM PST on Dec 9, 2012

i hope he get long time in jail!!!!!. thnx for the article

9:28PM PST on Mar 4, 2012

Sorry that at least one of the snakes didn't bite him. Seriously though, what was he going to do with them? Obviously there is a demand for these creatures and lots of money to be made. Perhaps authorities could pursue the would-be buyers and charge them also.

4:56PM PST on Mar 2, 2012

That's crazy! 247 endangered animals crammed into 1 suitcase. Idiot himself needs to be crammed into a suitcase with no oxygen -- punishment fits the crime.

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