According to a press release from the Attorney’s Office of the Los Angeles District, a Southern California man was arrested for having three deadly cobras in potato chip tins in his possession. The man identified as Rodrigo Franco according to an affidavit seen by CNN was detained after the U.S Custom and Border Protection checked a package from Hong Kong and found 2-foot long Cobras in potato chip canisters.
The importation and exportation of cobras are banned under the “Wild Fauna and Flora Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species” because they are guarded under the Endangered Species Act.
The affidavit seen by CNN has it that the package also contained 3 albino Chinese turtle with soft shell in addition to the king cobras.
Franco also forwarded a package consisting of desert box turtles, ornate box turtles and three-toed box turtles from the U.S to Hong Kong but the delivery was interrupted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Agents search California home
The cobras were confiscated by the Customs and Border Protection due to their potential dangers, but the turtles were sent to Franco’s home in Monetary Park, California where the United States Fish and Wildlife Services stormed the address.
While conducting a search warrant, the officials discovered a package that came from Hong Kong in a bedroom. A live baby Morelt’s crocodile was found in a tank and other tanks having a common snapping turtle, alligator snapping turtles and five diamondback terrapins. These creatures are all protected species.
The 34-year-old Southern California man, Franco was charged with one count of pushing merchandise into the U.S illegally. During subsequent interrogations, the suspect said he had received 2o Cobras in two shipments earlier, but they all died in transit.
The authorities said they saw conversations between the suspect and an Asian partner about shipments of turtles and snakes between Asia and the U.S. According to the complaint; the discussions revealed that Franco had received live cobras from his Asian partner and was meant to give five of the cobras to a relative. If found guilty, Franco would face a 20 years sentence in the federal prison.