Eastern box turtle
Photo by Marc Parsons/Shutterstock.com

Canadian pleads guilty after being caught smuggling 51 turtles in his pants

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A Canadian man has pleaded guilty and could face up to ten years in prison for turtle smuggling.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kai Xu was caught at the Michigan border crossing last August with 51 turtles taped to his body.

Xu ordered the turtles online before travelling to the United States to ship some to China and return to Canada with the others.

According to The Globe and Mail, Xu “regularly [dealt] in turtle shipments worth $30,000, $80,000 or $125,000.” The turtles he smuggled were worth two-to-three times what he paid in the U.S.

It’s illegal to export wildlife from the U.S. without a licence from the government, and on Tuesday, Xu pleaded guilty in federal court in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

But the real question is, exactly how did he fit all of those live turtles in his pants? Apparently, 41 of the turtles were strapped to Xu’s legs and the remaining 10 were hidden between his legs.

Authorities intercepted Xu when he attempted to cross into Windsor from Detroit, seizing the turtles, which were a variety of North American species, such as Eastern box turtles, red-eared sliders, and diamondback terrapins.

According to CBC News, the investigation of Xu started well before the border, when someone with a courier company in Detroit tipped wildlife services off to a suspicious package addressed to Xu, which had been shipped from Alabama.

Reports state that border agents watched as Xu allegedly opened multiple boxes in the back of his SUV, where he took out round, clear plastic containers and dumped their contents into plastic bags. Other tip-offs were packing tape, scissors and, of course, his pants.

“Special Agent (James) Fuller noticed irregularly shaped bulges under Xu’s sweatpants on both legs,” news sources say.

Xu, who describes himself as an engineering student at the University of Waterloo, is now in custody. The university says that Xu was not enrolled at the time of his arrest.


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