Guardia Civil is investigating a man who was caught trying to smuggle 46 animals out of the country in his hand luggage. The man was apprehended with 46 live turtle and crab specimens. Airport security found the animals wrapped in plastic so that they would not move but experts believe that this would have caused them to suffocate after a short period of time.
The man was caught earlier this month when airport security noticed suspicious contents in his suitcase using the x-ray scanner. The passenger was about to board a flight to Denmark when security personnel alerted the Guardia Civil who performed a search of the man’s handluggage.
When officers asked him to open the suitcase they found that it was full of live turtles and crabs, some wrapped in transparent plastic wrap and others in boxes, or even sealed in plastic so they could not move. Given the possibility that these were protected species, airport officers requested the collaboration of the Nature Protection Service (Seprona) of Alicante, for the proper identification of the specimens.
Seprona officers confirmed that there were forty-six live specimens of the following species: a red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans); two yellow-eared slider sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta); six leprous pond turtles (Mauremys leprosa) and thirty-seven American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii).
The pond turtles in particular are listed as specially protected as they are endangered.
The Tax and Border Analysis and Investigation Unit (UDAIFI) of the Tax Section of the Alicante Airport Guardia Civil has opened an investigation into the 64-year-old man, who is charged with the crime of illegal trafficking of protected species and another of animal abuse. Anyone found guilty of animal abuse could face a maximum prison sentence of anywhere from three months up to one year in addition to disqualification from carrying out any profession related to animals. For the crime of illegal trafficking of endangered species, the man could face a prison sentence of up to two years.
The file has been made available to the Investigating Court of Elche. The rescued animals have been transferred to the Santa Faz Wildlife Recovery Centre.