A man has been charged after trying to board a plane in Argentina with 247 live animals packed in his suitcase, including poisonous snakes and endangered reptiles.
Local media reports the Czech man, identified as 51-year-old Karel Abelovsky, was trying to board a flight for Madrid when baggage X-ray technicians and staff at Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires noticed “organic substances moving inside”.
Some of the animals were reported to be extremely rare and protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Among the animals were nine species of poisonous snakes, including South American pit vipers, which were packed in clear plastic containers.
There were also 15 venomous vipers, including two yararas – which can measure up to 1.5 metres – and several young boas.
Two of the animals were found dead and most of the others could have suffered the same fate due to a lack of oxygen if the suitcase had been placed in the plane’s cargo area.
The discovery was made on December 7 but only recently came to light.
A judge has charged Abelovsky with attempted smuggling and he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Researchers suspect that an exotic species smuggling ring was behind the trafficking attempt.