Thai Authorities Seize Luggage Containing 431 Reptiles at Bangkok Airport
June 2: Mud turtles crawl inside a basket as they are shown to the press during a news conference by Thai customs in Bangkok, Thailand.
BANGKOK -- Thai customs authorities say 431 turtles and other rare reptiles were stuffed into four suitcases and smuggled into the Bangkok airport.
Gharials -- a type of crocodile native to India -- and Indian star and roofed tortoises were among the species found in the luggage Wednesday.
Customs Department Director-General Prasong Poontaneat says many of the reptiles are endangered and international trade is banned. They were discovered when an Indian traveler arriving from Bangladesh failed to retrieve his bags.
Prasong said the animals would be held for evidence and taken care of by wildlife officials.
Thailand is a hub for the illegal wildlife trade. A smuggling attempt thwarted last month involved two leopards, two panthers, an Asiatic black bear and two macaque monkeys -- all juveniles about the size of puppies.