Brit caught with 900 spiders at Rio de Janeiro airport

Hotel News - 16/11/2009

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A Welshman was detained by airport officials at Rio de Janeiro while attempting to board his UK flight with 900 bird-eating spiders. Identified as Lee Ardern, the 26-year-old man was arrested after security scanners had detected his two suitcases full of spiders.

Security staff said that Ardern’s baggage was checked by chance after he arrived on a trip from Paraguay. They informed that he did not have authorization from the Brazilian Institute for Environment and Renewable Resources to carry the spiders.

Local police warned that unauthorized export of animals is strictly prohibited in Brazil and that he could be jailed from six months to one year. However, they regard a £452,000 fine as a more expected punishment for the offence than imprisonment.

Ardern, claiming to be the owner of a spider shop in the UK, had bought each spider for £3 and intended to sell them for £30 each. He said that he was passing through Brazil on his return journey to London. The suspected smuggler was bailed, but ordered not to leave the country until he gets a court date for sentencing.

Carlos Magno from the institute said that 600 spiders were of a genus which is commonly found in Paraguay, but not in Brazil. The other 300 were of a species which can be found in both countries.

Brazil is known to be one of the world’s biggest markets for animal trafficking, with roughly 50,000 animals rescued by the authorities every year. The Brazilian police stated that the incident was Rio de Janeiro Airport’s largest ever seizure of wildlife.

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