An affidavit filed with the US federal court on Tuesday revealed a Canadian resident of Windsor, Ontario was arrested for smuggling 51 turtles hidden under his sweatpants while attempting to cross the Canada-USA border at the Detroit-Windsor crossing, reports the Toronto Star.
Kai Xu has been charged with smuggling and illegally exporting fish or wildlife by a US court, and may be sentenced up to 10 years in a federal prison.
Xu was found to have 41 live turtles taped to his legs, and another ten turtles “hidden between his legs.”
This collection of “family jewels” included Eastern box turtles, Red-eared sliders, and Diamondback terrapins and are estimated to be worth between $1,300 to $1,500.
Xu was apparently planning to board a flight to Shanghai, but the final destination for the leg-strapped turtles was likely on a dinner plate.
Ed Grace, deputy chief law enforcement officer with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, noted that there is demand for the turtles in Asian food and collector markets. “Not just with turtles, I see it with ginseng, I see it with how wildlife in the United States can be, you know, coveted by collectors or for food markets,” he said.
Guangdong Province is often the final destination for a huge number of smuggled animals, many of which are intended for consumption. Previous cases include chinchillas, pangolins, another incident involving turtles, and another case of trying to stuff animals down one’s pants, this time involving birds.
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Photo: the Star