A lucrative turtle-smuggling operation supplying shipments of reptiles to be sold on the black market was busted after a Canadian man was caught trying to sneak 51 live turtles through the US-Canada border by stuffing them into his pants. The man’s accomplice was also arrested while attempting to fly from Detroit to Shanghai with more than 200 live turtles packed into his checked bags.
Kai Xu was charged with smuggling turtles across the Detroit border on Friday, after his operation was discovered when officers noticed the giant turtle-bulge in his sweatpants, according to The Washington Post.
The man had 51 turtles taped around his legs and groin as he attempted crossing. He was reportedly the head of a lucrative, international smuggling ring that shipped thousands of turtles concealed in cereal boxes or snow shoes into Asia. The Detroit News reports that in the black market, Xu was known by a different name—”Turtle Man.”
Despite the global reach and lucrative profits of the smuggling ring—with individual turtles worth up to $1,800—the “Turtle Man’s” ultimate capture was not Ocean’s Eleven material. The Washington Post recounts:
Agents said they then saw Xu go between two trucks with a weighted grocery bag, then emerge without a bag 10 minutes later. That’s when one agent “noticed irregularly shaped bulges under Xu’s sweatpants on both legs,” the complaint alleges.
One of Xu’s accomplices, Lihua Lin, was also arrested while attempting to fly out of Detroit to Shanghai with more than 200 live turtles in his two checked bags. The Guardian reports that the globe-crossing, high-income smuggling ring was brought down by some dude named Dave. Kudos Dave:
Agents said they were tipped off by a Detroit UPS employee identified only as “Dave”, who alerted agents to a seven pound box labeled “live fish keep cool”.
Like iPhones, there is always insatiable demand for turtles in China providing a golden opportunity for the black market. Also, like iPhones, turtles are small so you can smuggle dozens in cereal boxes or stockings, or you can just stick them down your pants and hope for the best. Poor turtles.
by Alex Linder
[Images via AP & The Detroit News]