In the annals of smuggling, Los Angeles International Airport has seen it all — lizards in luggage, songbirds strapped to a passenger's legs, boxes of tarantulas and two pygmy monkeys hidden in a traveler's pants.
Now, officials said, they have recorded another milestone in the animal kingdom — smuggled turtles.
Authorities said two Japanese men were arrested with more than 50 live rare turtles, from Chinese big-headed turtles to Indian Star tortoises, packed neatly inside snack food boxes.
On Monday, Atsushi Yamagami, 39, and Norihide Ushirozako, 49, were charged in a two-count criminal complaint alleging that they illegally imported wildlife into the United States, a smuggling offense that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, and one count of violating the Endangered Species Act, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison.?
Federal officials, who arrested the men Friday, said the suspects had 55 live turtles sealed inside snack boxes of cookies and crackers.