Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Two charged with turtle smuggling

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of illegally importing turtles into the US
Two men have been arrested on suspicion of illegally importing turtles into the US

Two men from Japan have been arrested for allegedly smuggling more than 50 live turtles and tortoises into the United States.

The US attorney's office said that Atsushi Yamagami and Norihide Ushirozako, both of Osaka, were arrested on Friday at Los Angeles International Airport.

Both men were charged with one count each of illegally importing wildlife and one count of violating the Endangered Species Act.

If convicted, they both face up to 21 years in prison. They are scheduled to be arraigned on January 31.

Federal prosecutors said the turtles and tortoises were hidden in snack food boxes found in a suitcase.

The arrests were tied to an undercover investigation that began last year into a smuggling operation that brought turtles into the United States.

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