Pythons on a plane

X-Ray pictures catch man trying to smuggle Australian snakes to Bangkok in suitcases
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X-Ray pictures catch man trying to smuggle Australian snakes to Bangkok in suitcases

Travelers at Sydney Airport last week had more to deal with than the usual annoyances of long lines, sticky plastic bins, and removing their shoes and belts: They had some 44 snakes and lizards (including a few pythons) in the line ahead of them.

Before you even say it: No, Samuel L. Jackson wasn’t in Sydney shooting Snakes on a Plane 2.

Instead, a 24-year-old man headed to Bangkok attempted to smuggle a load of living reptiles through security in his suitcase. Customs agents noticed something strange on the x-ray, though, and opened his luggage to find 16 bluetongue lizards, 24 shingleback lizards, three black-headed pythons, and a rare, endangered albino python hidden among socks, bits of cloth, and a wire hanger.

The albino python is extremely rare, with global population numbers believed to be only around 100. Most of the other reptiles are native to Australia.

According to a Telegraph article, Customs officials estimate the slithery suitcase’s contents to be worth upwards of $120,000 on the black market. The rare albino python could fetch around $12,000 to $15,000 alone.

The reptile-obsessed traveler, who is from Bonnet Bay, New South Wales, Australia, has been charged with attempting to export native species without permit, and was granted bail on the basis that he appears at a Sydney court in March. He faces penalties of around $70,000 and up to 10 years behind bars.

The snakes and lizards, meanwhile, avoided a lengthy plane ride and instead were taken to a wildlife center in Sydney.

Samuel L. Jackson could not be reached for comment.

--Matt Draper

Photo Credit- National Pictures UK

Man smuggled snakes into Australia in Suitcase (Telegraph UK)