A German man has been charged with smuggling hundreds of tarantulas into the United States through the mail, netting more than $300,000, authorities said Friday.
Sven Koppler, 37, was charged with illegally importing wildlife into the country, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
"He is one of the largest importers of illegal tarantulas into the United States," Assistant U.S. Atty. Mark Williams said. "He has been doing it for several years."
Koppler received hundreds of thousands of dollars from sales of tarantulas in dozens of countries, including transactions with about nine people in the United States, Williams said. Authorities were investigating others who may have been part of the scheme, he said.