MIAMI (Reuters) - A Brazilian man who was caught at Miami airport trying to smuggle seven baby pythons and three baby tortoises concealed in his underwear and pockets was fined $400 by a U.S. judge on Wednesday.
Simon Turola Borges, 30, who had been detained since August 25, pled guilty to smuggling and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz to time served, two years of supervised release, and a $400 fine. He was ordered to be deported.
Prosecutors said Borges initially denied having anything hidden in his pants when Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at the airport pulled him aside for a further search after he went through a body scanner while preparing to board a flight to Brazil last month.
“Subsequently, he was asked to empty his cargo pants pockets, and he removed two hatchling pythons tightly wrapped in nylon pantyhose,” prosecutors said in a statement.
When he was asked to remove any foreign objects from his groin area “Borges pulled his underwear away from his body and removed two nylon pantyhose containing numerous snakes and tortoises,” the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida added in the statement.
The seized live animals, all hatchlings just weeks old, consisted of three Ball Pythons, three Carpet Pythons, one Children’s Python, one Indian Star Tortoise and two Leopard Tortoises, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
All of the creatures are protected under the CITES convention that restricts trade in animal species without special permits.
The judge ordered that the fine should go to the Miami Science Museum to help protect reptile species.
Reporting by Pascal Fletcher and Tom Brown; Editing by Greg McCune