Los Angeles man was arrested on charges of smuggling king cobras into the United States in potato chip cans.
Los Angeles,July26: In a disgusting case of poaching, a Los Angeles man was arrested on Tuesday on charges of smuggling king cobras into the United States in potato chip cans.
Rodrigo Franco, 34, was charged with illegally importing merchandise into the country after the US Customs and Border Protection agents intercepted a shipment containing three live, highly venomous king cobra snakes inside potato chip canisters that were being mailed to his California home, federal prosecutors said.
US prosecutors said the 2-foot (0.61 metre)-long snakes concealed inside the canisters were found on March 2 when Customs and Border Protection agents checked a package that was mailed from Hong Kong
Three albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles were also found in the package, prosecutors said, adding that Franco on that same day mailed a box to Hong Kong with six protected turtles inside.
He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted, although federal sentencing guidelines typically call for less time behind bars.
According to the National Geographic website, the king cobra, also known as Ophiophagus hannah, is the longest venomous snake, reaching up to 18 feet (5.5 metres) in length.
When confronted, king cobras can raise up to one-third of their bodies off the ground, flare out their hoods and emit a “bone-chilling” hiss before attacking.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, Franco admitted during an interview with authorities that he had previously two other packages with a total of 20 king cobras, but all of which, he said, had died in transit.