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55 Live Turtles Found in Passenger's Luggage at LAX

Release Date: 
January 11, 2011

Los Angeles - On January 7, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agriculture specialists at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Tom Bradley International Terminal halted attempts by two Japanese nationals to smuggle 55 live turtles and $16,212 of undeclared currency from Japan.

Exotic Turtles and Tortoises

Turtles and tortoises are protected under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

Photo Credit:CBP-Office of Field Operations

The exotic reptiles, identified as endangered species, were found alive wrapped in cloth bags and concealed inside five Japanese cookie boxes. Turtles and tortoises are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

CBP officers seized 15 Fly River, 14 Snail Eating, 3 Chinese Big-Headed, 5 Indian Flap, 11 Chinese Soft Shell turtles and 7 Star tortoises.

Rare Reptiles Seized by CBP at LAX

12 Fly River, 14 Snail Eating, 3 chinese Big-Headed, 5 Indian Flap, 11 Chinese Soft Shell turtles and 7 Star tortoises.

CBP, the nation's border agency, works closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure CITES is enforced at every port of entry in the United States. The goal of CITES is to ensure that international trade in animals does not threaten their survival.

"CBP-LAX values partnerships and works diligently with other agencies to ensure the enforcement of a myriad of federal laws. Multiagency efforts such as this one illustrate the vigilance and commitment in maintaining a united front against international trafficking of endangered species," said CBP Acting Director of Los Angeles Field Operations Carlos Martel.

The two male passengers, 49 and 39 years old, were turned over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the reptiles and the seized money.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the primary agency responsible for enforcing CITES in the United States. Under CITES both the importer and exporter need to comply with the convention's requirements and be certified in the trade of any part of an animal covered by the Convention.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017