Man charged with smuggling box turtles found in socks in California

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A Chinese man has been charged pinch smuggling protected turtles aft nan mini animals bound wrong socks were intercepted successful packages successful Southern California, prosecutors said Monday.

Sai Keung Tin, 53, was indicted Friday connected 4 counts of exporting merchandise contrary to law.

The eastbound container turtles, kept wrong socks to support them from making noise, were recovered successful 4 packages astatine a U.S. message installation successful Torrance successful 2023, which were addressed to Tin’s home, nan U.S. Attorney’s Office for nan Central District of California said successful a statement.

The turtles turn to astir 6 inches, tin unrecorded astir 100 years and tin person colorful ammunition patterns, nan agency said.

The eastbound container turtle is protected done an world convention, nan Convention connected International Trade successful Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, arsenic good arsenic by U.S. national law.

That world normal was ratified successful 1975, and China is simply a personnel of nan pact.

animal protection controlSmuggled protected turtles hidden successful socks.DOJ

Tin is charged successful relationship pinch 40 turtles recovered successful 4 packages intercepted astatine nan Torrance message installation connected June 27, 2023, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service typical supplier wrote successful an affidavit revenge pinch nan criminal complaint.

One of nan turtles was dead, but nan remainder were alive. Smuggled turtles are kept bound successful socks to support them from making sound by moving, and to protect their shells, nan supplier wrote successful nan affidavit.

Tin is associated pinch Kang Juntao, who smuggled astatine slightest 1,500 turtles from nan U.S. to Hong Kong successful 2017 and 2018, according to nan affidavit. The turtles’ worth successful nan pet waste and acquisition is astir $2.25 million.

Middlemen for Kang would nonstop turtles to Tin’s reside successful Hong Kong, and from location they would beryllium smuggled to mainland China, nan affidavit says.

Kang was arrested successful Malaysia successful 2019, extradited to nan United States, and successful October 2021 he was sentenced to much than 3 years successful situation for money laundering, nan Justice Department has said. Kang, done a nationwide network, smuggled 5 type of turtles, including nan eastbound container turtle, nan DOJ said.

Even though Kang was arrested and prosecuted, packages continued to beryllium sent to Tin and intercepted successful Torrance, nan U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service typical supplier wrote successful nan affidavit.

Tin was arrested successful New York City connected Feb. 25 aft he arrived astatine John F. Kennedy Airport, officials said.

Online tribunal records did not look to show an lawyer for Tin successful relationship pinch nan California lawsuit who could speak connected his behalf Monday afternoon. A national nationalist defender was listed successful New York, but nan lawsuit has since been moved. That lawyer did not instantly respond to a petition for comment.

Phil Helsel

Phil Helsel is simply a newsman for NBC News.