A MAN has been charged after trying to board a plane in Argentina with 247 live animals packed in his bulging suitcase, including poisonous snakes and endangered reptiles.
The Czech man, identified as 51-year-old Karel Abelovsky, was trying to board an Iberia flight for Madrid when baggage X-ray technicians and staff at Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires noticed “organic substances moving inside”.
Some of the animals were reported to be extremely rare and protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Among the animals were nine species of poisonous snakes, including South American pit vipers, which were packed in clear plastic containers, bags and even socks, each labelled with their scientific names.
There were also 15 venomous vipers and several young boa constrictors.
The discovery was made on December 7 but only recently came to light.
A judge has charged Abelovsky with attempted smuggling and he faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.
Abelovsky was released on bail after surrendering his passport and is refusing to talk even though he faces up to ten years in prison.
Authorities believe Abelovsky is part of an exotic animal smuggling ring and was planning to take the creatures out of the country to sell abroad.
Two of them were already dead when authorities found them.
Experts say the rest would likely have died from lack of oxygen in the cargo hold when the plane climbed to cruising altitude.