Two Japanese men charged for smuggling turtles to U.S.

14:20, January 29, 2011      

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Two Japanese nationals, who were held at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), were indicted on charges of conspiring to bring over 50 live turtles and tortoises to the United State on Friday.

The men, Norihide Ushirozako, 49, and Atsushi Yamagami, 39, are charged in a three-count federal indictment with conspiracy, animal smuggling and wildlife trafficking. They have been held without bail and are expected to be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles federal court.

The defendants, who were arrested on Jan. 7, were charged for concealing the widelife in snack food boxes found in a suitcase at LAX.

The smuggling operation came to light about a year ago when agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began to look into the case in the operation dubbed Operation Flying Turtle.

The agents succeeded in purchasing 10 protected turtles and tortoises from a person who has links with the defendants, according to the U.S.Attorney's Office.

If convicted, the men could land 26 years behind bars in a federal prison, prosecutors said.

Source: Xinhua
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