A California man has been arrested for attempting to smuggle three deadly king cobras into the United States, simply by stuffing them into some flimsy potato chip cans and hoping nobody would notice.
Customs agents did notice, however. According to NPR, the snakes were hidden in some small potato chip cans and mailed from Hong Kong to Los Angeles by the U.S. Postal Service.
When agents at Customs and Border Protection saw a box of potato chips traveling from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, they thought the potato chips might be hiding illegal drugs. When they saw the cans moving, however, they contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That’s when they discovered the potato chip cans were actually stuffed with three king cobras.
Franco’s snakes appear to have just been babies, because they were only about two feet long. King cobras can grow to be around 18 feet as adults. They’re also extremely dangerous. Their venom is a neurotoxin, and a bite from a king cobra can kill a person in 30 minutes. Carrying them in potato chip containers seems like a terrible, dangerous idea.
In addition to the snakes, the potato chip containers held three albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles.
Customs agents removed the deadly cobras, but put the turtles back in the box and delivered it, so they could catch and arrest the intended recipient, 34-year-old Rodrigo Franco.
Franco’s house was reportedly full of illicit animals, including terrapins, snapping turtles, and a baby crocodile. He’d also just mailed a package of turtles to Hong Kong when he was arrested, but that box was intercepted before it left the country.
Franco could face 20 years in prison for importing illegal merchandise, falsifying records, and violating the Endangered Species Act.