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Over 1,500 live turtles found taped-up & stuffed into luggage at Philippines airport (PHOTOS)

Over 1,500 live turtles found taped-up & stuffed into luggage at Philippines airport (PHOTOS)
Philippines customs officers at Manila’s international airport have made a disturbing discovery of 1,529 turtles, wrapped in duct tape and stuffed into just four pieces of luggage.

The small turtles and tortoises were discovered alive inside the unclaimed luggage, which had traveled from Hong Kong on Sunday. The contents would reportedly have been worth up to 4.5 million pesos ($85,000) on the black market.

Photos from the alarming discovery show hundreds of small turtles, heavily wrapped in duct tape and squeezed into boxes which were, in turn, packed inside the suitcases. Authorities believe a Filipino passenger may have been “informed of the vigilance of Bureau of Customs against illegal wildlife trade and its penalties” and so decided not to claim the four suitcases upon arrival.

The reptiles were subsequently turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit, according to the Bureau of Customs. Offenders who attempt to smuggle illegal wildlife into the Philippines face a penalty of up to two years as well as a fine of up 200,000 pesos.

Customs officials said last year alone they turned over more than 560 wildlife and endangered species, while earlier this year they intercepted 63 iguanas, chameleons and bearded dragons.

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