Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy

Canadian man found with 51 live turtles stuffed in pants

Eastern box turtle.
Image Credit: Wikicommons
September 25, 2014 - 4:26 PM

TORONTO - A Canadian who was caught at the border with 51 live turtles stuffed down his pants is facing charges in the U.S. over an alleged reptile smuggling operation, recently unsealed court documents show.

The U.S. federal court documents show officers with the Canada Border Services Agency intercepted Kai Xu as he attempted to cross into Windsor, Ont., from Detroit last month.

"During the secondary inspection, Xu was found to have 51 live turtles tapped (sic) to his person," Kenneth Adams, a special agent with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stated in an affidavit outlining the criminal complaint.

"Specifically, Xu had 41 turtles tapped (sic) to his legs and 10 hidden between his legs."

Canadian authorities seized the turtles, which included North American varieties such as eastern box turtles, red-eared sliders and diamondback terrapins — some of which sell for $800 each — and turned them over to American officials.

While the interception occurred in August, details were only made public after Xu and a second Canadian, Lihua Lin, 30, of the Toronto area, were arrested and charged in U.S. district court this week following an investigation by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Xu, 26, and Lin appeared in federal court in Detroit on Thursday charged with smuggling, illegal trading and exporting. They could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

In a separate criminal complaint against Xu's co-accused filed with the court, Special Agent Matthew Martin described how wildlife officials witnessed "known reptile smuggler" Xu pick up several boxes of live turtles in Novi, northwest of Detroit, on Tuesday.

He drove them to a hotel near the Detroit international airport, where he placed the reptiles in a room he had booked for two nights. He later met up with Lin at the hotel.

On Wednesday, Xu dropped Lin off at the airport bound for Shanghai, China. Lin checked in two pieces of luggage and a search turned up more than 200 North American pond turtles. Lin was arrested after saying he had nothing to declare.

None of the allegations has been proven in court and the accused have not offered a defence.

The turtles are apparently prized as food or pets in China.

In his detailed complaint, Adams described how his agency had received a tip Aug. 5 from a courier company in Detroit about a parcel addressed to Xu that was awaiting pickup.

The brown box, which had been shipped from Alabama, weighed about three kilograms and had no air holes but carried the notation "Live fish — keep cool."

On the same day, U.S. border agents notified the fish and wildlife agency that Xu had crossed into Detroit from Windsor in an SUV.

Adams and other agents then staked out the courier depot, where Xu arrived to pick up the brown parcel.

Xu then apparently opened various boxes in the rear of the SUV, took out several round clear plastic containers, and placed their contents into plastic baggies. He was also seen with packaging tape and scissors.

"Xu turned towards me as he looked around the parking lot," Adams states.

"As he did so, Special Agent (James) Fuller noticed irregularly shaped bulges under Xu's sweatpants on both his legs."

Xu then drove toward Windsor, where he was stopped.

He is due to appear in bail court in Detroit on Friday, said Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman with the U.S. attorney's office.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

  • Popular kamloops News
  • Comments
  • Routine stop in Kamloops turns into yelling match on Halston Avenue
    KAMLOOPS - What should have been a straightforward impaired driving check became tense yesterday as people in two cars yelled at each other about who had guns in their cars, police say. Arou
  • RCMP confirm death of Vernon man was a homicide
    VERNON - What was first described as a suspicious death in Vernon is now being called a homicide by RCMP. Police are officially releasing the identity of a man found dead last Thursday, Mar
  • Kamloops RCMP bust drug dealer
    KAMLOOPS – Police in Kamloops have arrested a Falkland man for drug trafficking following an investigation two weeks ago. RCMP say members of the Street Level Drug Unit conducted an in
  • UPDATE: Man police sought identified
    KAMLOOPS - Kamloops RCMP have spoken with a man they were looking for in connection to a case of false identity. After an RCMP media release this morning, March 29, asking the public for tip
  • First solar road in Canada coming to Kamloops this summer
    KAMLOOPS - The first solar road in Canada will be built this summer at the Thompson Rivers University campus in Kamloops. The Solar Compass Project is due to be installed in June, a year lat
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile