Snakes strapped to man's legs

2003-09-24 09:35

Sydney, Australia - A Swedish man tried to smuggle eight dangerous snakes into Australia by strapping them to his legs, customs officials said on Wednesday.

Justice Minister Chris Ellison said the 28-year-old man, whose name was not released, arrived at Sydney airport from Thailand on Monday night. He was searched by customs officers who discovered the reptiles in packages strapped to his calves.

The snakes - which included four deadly King Cobras - were handed over to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. The other snake species were not released.

Ellison said the man has been charged with illegally importing animals and was refused bail during an appearance at Sydney's Waverley Local Court on Tuesday.

He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a A$110 000 (about R525 000) fine, or both.

"Animals and plants smuggled in from overseas may introduce new diseases that are currently absent in Australia, or they may end up being dumped by the owners and spread as new feral pests or weeds," Ellison said in a statement. "This detection ... sends a clear warning to those who may seek to breach Australia's laws at the border."

- AP

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