Airport screeners in Buenos Aires found the cargo packed into a bulging suitcase on a transatlantic flight to Madrid was packed in clear, plastic containers- but the bag still had to be reported.
Iberia Airlines X-ray technicians saw "organic substances moving inside," according to the International Business Times. They opened the bag to find that those substances were 200 reptiles and mollusks, including South American pit vipers, 15 venomous vipers, and several young boas. There were 247 animals in the bag in all.
AFP reported that Karel Abelovsky, a 51-year-old Czech national, has been charged with attempted smuggling, and could receive up to 10 years in prison with a conviction. The incident actually occurred on Dec. 7, but had only been reported recently.
According to news.com.au, it is suspected that the animals were smuggled to be part of an exotic species smuggling ring, as some of his animals were extremely rare, and protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Two yararas were included in Abelovsky’s luggage, which can measure up to 5 feet.
Two of the animals died during the trip and most of the others may not have survived if the bag had been put in the cargo area because of a lack of oxygen there.