SEPANG: Customs officers seized more than 5,000 baby tortoises after stopping two men at KLIA2.
During a baggage check on June 20, the men, who had just arrived from Guangzhou, China, were found to have 5,255 baby tortoises with them.
The animals were kept in small baskets, which were then placed inside two luggage bags.
“The importation of tortoises without a licence is an offence under the Customs Act 1967.
“Both suspects were remanded and will be charged in the near future,” said Central Zone Customs assistant director-general Datuk Zulkurnain Mohamed Yusuf.
Further checks on the tortoises showed that not all of them survived the trip.
The department estimated the total worth of the seizure to be around RM52,550.
The tortoises would be handed over to the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan), said Zulkurnain.
Sources said the two suspects told authorities that they were not aware that transporting such livestock was against local laws.
It is believed that both men had bought the tortoises from China with the intent of reselling them in India.
In an unrelated case, the department also arrested two drug smugglers who attempted to bring in their illicit goods via hidden compartments in their luggage.
“The first suspect was arrested on June 19 after he arrived from Hyderabad, India. Checks led to the discovery of a packet containing 6.6kg of what we believe to be methamphetamine,” he said.
The second case occurred the next day at 1.30am.
A man who had just arrived from Bengaluru had his bags scanned. Again, suspicious imagery from the scans led to a more thorough search.
“We found 15 small packages hidden in three boxes that had been modified. In total, 7.74kg of the same type of drug was found,” he said.The combined worth of both drug seizures was estimated to be RM717,000.