An unusual package detained by US customs officials led to the arrest of a California resident suspected of managing a smuggling network of endangered and rare reptiles.

One of the cobras

One of the cobras Photo credit: CNN/ Channel 2 News

In a search of his home, the police found a small crocodile pool, a pool for sea turtles of various kinds and a package with rare land turtles. The king cobra is protected by the Endangered Species Act and must not be imported or exported without a special permission. In addition to the cobra, customs officials discovered three albino soft-shelled turtles, which are also protected by the act.  

The suspect, Rodrigo Franco, even sent a package with six protected turtles to Hong Kong. However, the package was detained by US Fish and Wildlife Service authorities. 34-year-old Franco told investigators that most of the snaked that were sent to him didn’t survive. According to CNN news, the maximum punishment for his crimes is 20 years in prison.

Photo credit: CNN/ Channel 2 News