Passenger is caught smuggling 160 exotic animals into Peru

Around 160 exotic animals including snakes, spiders and turtles were seized at a Peruvian airport.

The animals were confiscated at Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima.

They were found in the luggage of a passenger travelling from Miami to an unspecified Asian country, the Peruvian National Forestry and Wildlife Service (SERFOR) said.

Peruvian authorities found the animals in appalling conditions, almost suffocated, as they were stashed inside medicine bottles, in plastic boxes of tools and bolts, and even wrapped with cotton inside straws.

The animals were found inside two suitcases, in the hold and carry-on luggage, of a Peruvian-American passenger on November 17.

It is understood that the passenger intended to illegally enter and later traffic the animals in Asia.

SERFOR and officers from the Technical Forestry and Wildlife Administration (ATFFS) of Lima found tarantulas of various species coming from Africa, Panama and Brazil.

There were also a variety of snakes with 29 corn snakes found inside a container of infant formula and 14 Cranwell's frogs.

But there were also at least 15 specimens of internationally protected species such as the savannah monitor, Jackson's chameleon and the map turtle.

The animals were transferred to two specialised centres in Lima and they were quarantined under specialised care.

But because of the poor conditions they travelled in, as well as the lack of food, four animals were sadly found dead.

This shipment of animals would have a value of tens of thousands of dollars and would have been sold on the black market.

It is estimated that the illicit trafficking of exotic animals makes 20billion a year worldwide.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), illegal wildlife trafficking is classified as one of the largest and most lucrative transnational organised crime activities in the world, along with drug trafficking, human trafficking and arms trafficking.