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A man tries to smuggle 100 live snakes into China in his pants : NPR

This February 2022 photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows snakes in bags found hidden in a man’s clothes at the San Ysidro, Calif., port of entry. On Tuesday, officials in China said a man was caught trying to smuggle more than 100 snakes into that country.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection/AP

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection/AP

A man traveling into China was caught attempting to smuggle over 100 live snakes of various sizes in his pants, according to media reports.

“Upon inspection, customs officers discovered that the pockets of the trousers the passenger was wearing were packed with six canvas drawstring bags and sealed with tape,” a statement from China’s customs agency said Tuesday.

“Once opened, each bag was found to contain living snakes in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors,” the statement said, adding that many of the snakes caught in the smuggling attempt were non-native species.

The man tried to bring the snakes from Hong Kong into the Chinese border city of Shenzhen, officials said.

The incident, while bizarre, is indicative of a larger problem, particularly in China, which is one of the most prolific hubs for illegal wildlife trade.

This environmental and wildlife smuggling poses threats to native animal species and represents a $20 billion annual black market — the third-largest illegal trading syndicate behind drugs and counterfeit food, according to Moody’s.

In a 2023 report, Interpol said that poaching and illegal wildlife were responsible not only for significant environmental damage, but also some 100 rangers are killed by illegal poachers each year.

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