BUENOS AIRES — Passengers on a bus in Argentina got an unwelcome surprise when police found more than 600 snakes and other reptiles packed in the luggage compartment, a ranger said Saturday.
Acting on a tip-off, police intercepted the bus in a northern province bound for Buenos Aires, asked to see passengers' documents, then began poking into their bags.
"A passenger came onboard with 40 snakes, plus what he had in the boxes" in the bus luggage hold, said ranger Daniel Chersich, warden of Santa Fe province.
Police "were terrified of opening the bags," Chersich, who was investigating a wildlife trafficking network and joined in the operation, told the daily Clarin.
With good reason.
The trafficker had loaded them with 444 boas, vipers and other snakes; 186 endangered tortoises; 40 lizards, and an armadillo.
The smuggler, who was arrested, boarded the bus in Santiago del Estero, where he had spent three months trapping various species in the bush with the intent of selling them, Chersich said.
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