Poisonous snakes found in luggage at Buenos Aires airport
Wednesday 28 December 2011
A man tried to board a plane in Argentina with almost 250 poisonous snakes and endangered reptiles in his baggage, each meticulously labelled with its Latin name.
Czech citizen Karel Abelovsky, 51, was en route to Spain when airport officials made him open his baggage at Buenos Aires' international airport after police spotted the reptiles in the X-ray scanner. They found 247 exotic and endangered species in all, packed inside plastic containers, bags and even socks.
Authorities believe the Czech was a courier for a criminal organisation that smuggles exotic species whose exports are banned, a judicial source told The Associated Press yesterday. Authorities said Abelovsky only arrived in Argentina days earlier and wouldn't have had time to gather all the animals.
Judge Marcelo Aguinsky believes the boa constrictors, poisonous pit vipers and coral snakes, lizards and spiders could have escaped the cloth suitcase in the unpressurised cabin of the 7 December Iberia flight to Madrid, and perhaps attacked people there or at his final destination in Prague, where antidotes for South American snakes aren't common, the source added.
Abelovsky was released on about $2,500 bail after surrendering his passport and is refusing to talk even though he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Abelovsky runs a Czech website that offers reptiles for sale. A woman who answered the contact number given on the site said she was his wife but did not give her name and said only that her husband was "ordinary."
Czech authorities have no information about Abelovsky, said Martina Kankova, spokeswoman for Czech customs administration. She said authorities have traced several people or broken rings of smugglers of various exotic animals in recent years, including turtles and parrots.
Czech television reported earlier this year that in 2010, customs officials in the country detained 55 smugglers with dozens of exotic animals.
Most of the animals and bugs found yesterday are being held under quarantine at the Buenos Aires Zoo, while some of the venomous snakes were sent to Argentina's national health institute, which has a high-security department where scientists develop antidotes using venom from snakes.
The species include lizards native to Mexico and snakes, spiders, snails and other species from northern Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Some were already dead in the suitcase, while others have succumbed to stress since then. Many were quite weak on arrival at the zoo, but most are still alive.
Wild snakes and reptiles are known to carry infectious diseases and so must be kept apart from the public and other animals, said Miguel Rivolta, the lead zoo veterinarian.
"It's difficult to find the right kind of bugs they eat, and to replicate as much as possible their environment in the wild," Rivolta said. "The best thing that can happen to these animals is that they liberate them as soon as possible in their natural habitat."
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Khorasan: Muhsin al-Fadhli - the man leading a terror group more feared by US officials than Isis
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Alicia Keys leaks own nude photo 'to create a kinder and more peaceful world'
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 3 Teachers needed in Winsford We ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Behavioural support worker Pupil r...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 5/6 Teachers needed in WinsfordWe...