Customs Officials Seize 4,000 Live Baby Tortoises

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CHENNAI: Customs officials at the Chennai Airport seized nearly 4,000 tiny red-eared tortoises at Chennai airport for the second time this month, after a passenger tried to smuggle them from Malaysia to Chennai on 27 August. During a routine passengers profiling Mohamed Habib, a native of Ramanathapuram, tried to smuggle in the tortoises in his suitcase, customs officials said. An official said, “Around 4,000 tortoises, all sized about one inch each, were dumped in a suitcase two feet in length and one and half feet in breadth. The passenger tried to smuggle the tortoises from Malaysia” he added. The man tried to smuggle the same species of tortoises a few days ago also but his attempt had failed. Recalling the previous incident, the official said the man was detained and released earlier this month. An officer said, “Previously, he was found carrying 5,000 live tortoises. However, he paid the fine of `5,000 and was released”. The man reached the Chennai airport on Saturday night. He had travelled from China via Kuala Lumpur in a transit flight through Malaysian Airlines and was caught when he reached Chennai, according to airport officials. Investigations are on to check where he brought the tortoises from and how long they were kept locked in the suitcase. Saying that smuggling such tortoises is banned, the immigration officials sent back the live tortoises in a flight on Sunday morning. The man confessed that he had bought the tortoises from a person in Malaysia for `20,000, the man said while interrogations. He also told the officials that he had brought the tortoises to India to sell them in different parts of the country as they were considered to be auspicious.  ]]>

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