|A man caught smuggling nearly 40 turtles in his pants has been fined $3,500 and placed on probation for two years. Dong Yan of Windsor, Ont., was convicted earlier this month of illegally importing reptiles into Canada that were transported in contravention of a foreign state's law.|
During an inspection at the Niagara border crossing on June 11, 2014, Canada Border Services Agency officials discovered 38 turtles strapped to Yan's legs.
| Court heard the turtles were contained in plastic bags and taped to Yan's legs under his pants. In addition to the fine and probation, Yan is prohibited from owning or possessing turtles and tortoises for 10 years, and must do 50 hours of community service.|
Officials say $2,000 from the fine will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.
|An Ontario man’s guilty plea in late 2015 for smuggling 51 turtles in his sweatpants might seem surprising, even more so when 27-year-old Kai Xu kept it up after being busted for illegally transporting wildlife across the Canada-U.S. border.|
But the reptiles represent big business in China, where they are worth double or triple what Xu paid for them online.
Border agents say Kai Xu ordered turtles online and would travel to the U.S. to pick them up or ship them to China.
|In a court filing, authorities said that he regularly “deals in turtle shipments worth $30,000, $80,000 or $125,000.” It’s illegal to export wildlife from the U.S. without a license from the government. |
The global illegal trade of wildlife is a lucrative business.
|Tortoises and freshwater turtles are one of the most commonly smuggled species in Asia. The reptiles are increasingly coming out of North America, particularly as Asian species become depleted.|
In parts of Asia, turtles are considered a delicacy and a symbol of health and longevity, and that helps fuel demand. But they’re also a status symbol, in part because of their endangered status. As they become increasingly rare, demand rises.