A Tale of Smugglers and Terrapins
Smuggling is bad news. Most of the time when you think about smugglers, you imagine shady underworld types trying to bring in drugs or guns to the country. You think about dark alleys and an exchange of dangerous goods. On the best of days, you might think about Han Solo … you know, the smuggler who did the Kesel Run. What you probably don’t think about is the odd smuggling case of a Canadian man by the name of Kai Xu.
What Did Xu Do To Break The Law?
Kai was caught at the US border in late 2015 with 51 turtles taped to his legs. Keep in mind that this is not a typo. He actually had taped all of these turtles to his legs in an attempt to eventually smuggle the turtles into China. According to reports, he’s done this before and gotten away with it. He’s already pled guilty to six smuggling crimes, which accounts for smuggling (or trying to smuggle) more than 1,000 reptiles.
Does Crime Pay?
Why would he try to smuggle the turtles to China? Apparently, there’s good money in smuggling turtles to China. According to Assistant US Attorney Sara Woodward, the turtles are worth between two and three times the amount they are in the United States. Smuggling high volumes of turtles could be worth more than a hundred thousand dollars. Xu is young, and it’s likely that the idea of getting so much money from smuggling reptiles seemed like an offer that was simply too good to pass up.
As mentioned, this was not Xu’s first time smuggling reptiles. He would go from Canada to the United States to buy the reptiles. Since it is illegal to bring reptiles into Canada from the US without a permit, he would either smuggle them into Canada or ship them directly from the United States to China, whichever might be easier at the time.
Then The Police Caught On…
The authorities had been tracking Xu for some time, and believed that he was a smuggler. They had been watching him pick up packages from UPS and then, before heading into Canada, he would have on a pair of sweatpants that had odd bulges on the legs. They put one weird thing and another weird thing together and discovered that this was often how he would bring the turtles into Canada.
On the same day that he had the turtles taped to his legs, he had another massive package of turtles (around 1,000 of them) in a suitcase. He had hired someone to take them to China for him, according to the prosecutors in the case.
His Day In Court
Xu could face up to a decade in prison, all because of these little terrapins that he taped to himself in an effort to smuggle. It’s unclear exactly how much time he will have to spend in prison or just what his penalty will end up being. The cash was a huge incentive in this case, as it generally is when it comes to smuggling. The penalty is never worth it though.
What Happened To The Turtles?
The good news for these turtles and terrapins is that, unlike the smuggler, they got to enjoy life in freedom. They were reportedly doing well after being sent to the Detroit Zoo.
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