Bag of snakes bursts at airport
Published 03/09/2010 | 09:18
An air passenger whose bag of 95 boa constrictor snakes burst open on a luggage conveyor belt at an airport in Malaysia has admitted wildlife smuggling.
Keng Wong, 52, was arrested in Kuala Lumpur International Airport on August 26 and was charged on Wednesday with exporting the endangered snakes without a permit.
The offence has a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a fine.
Airport officials said they also found some other types of snake and a turtle in the man's luggage.
Wong was attempting to fly to Indonesia's capital Jakarta.
The criminal charges involve the boas only because the other animals are not listed as endangered.
All of the animals are alive and are being cared for by wildlife officials.
A decade ago Wong was imprisoned for almost six years in the US for running an animal-smuggling ring. Prosecutors said he had imported and sold at least 300 protected reptiles native to Asia and Africa from 1996 until he was arrested in Mexico in 1998. It is unclear whether Wong served the full term.
The illegal wildlife trade once flourished in Malaysia however the national parliament passed a law in July to punish poachers and smugglers more severely, although the act has yet to take effect.