A passenger put three Burmese pythons in his pants and hopped on a bus headed to the U.S. from Canada, federal prosecutors say.
Now the man is in trouble after smuggling the snakes into the country through the Champlain Port of Entry in upstate New York, according to the Justice Department.
The 36-year-old man, of Queens, New York, was charged with smuggling goods into the U.S., and was arraigned in federal court on Oct. 4, according to court documents and a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
He faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he’s found guilty, prosecutors say.
His attorney declined a request for comment from McClatchy News on Oct. 4.
Burmese pythons can grow up to 16 feet in length and are considered “injurious to human beings” by the Secretary of the Interior, according to an indictment. Because of this, bringing pythons into the U.S. is not allowed unless the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues a permit.
Additionally, a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) document is required to bring Burmese pythons into the U.S. from another country, according to the indictment. This is because under the CITES Treaty, Burmese pythons are considered creatures “not presently threatened with extinction but may become so if their trade was not regulated.”
When the man smuggled the snakes in his pants into New York on July 15, 2018, he did not have the proper permits nor had he received official permission to do so, investigators say.
He was released after his arraignment and awaits a trial, according to the release.
The longest Burmese python was recorded in Florida and stretched 16.8 feet, according to the Florida Museum. The snake species are native to southern and southeastern Asia.