Customs officials made an unusual discovery in the Philippines on Sunday – more than 1,500 live turtles were packed in suitcases. At Manila’s Ninay Aquino International Airport, the Customs Bureau said the turtles were found duct taped in the luggage on the left.
The 1,529 exotic turtles on the black market were valued at an estimated 4.5 million Philippine pesos – about, 86,750. The Bureau of Customs says a Filipino passenger smuggled turtles on a flight from Hong Kong. The bureau wrote on Facebook, “The passenger may have been informed about the vigilance of the Bureau of Customs against the illegal trade of wildlife and its fines. I am left destitute, “the bureau wrote on Facebook.
The bureau shared several photos of the turtles – some of them in suitcases full of clothes and other belongings. According to a Facebook post, several different types of turtles were found in the suitcases, including Star Tortoise, Red Foot Tortoise, Silkata Tortoise and Red Ear Slider.
Last year, customs officials said they seized a total of 560 wildlife specimens and endangered species at the airport, including 250 geckos, which were handed over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. So far this year, 63 iguanas, chameleons and bearded dragons have been stopped.
Violators could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 pesos (US 3, 3,857), the bureau said.