Man caught smuggling over 100 snakes stuffed in trousers from Hong Kong to China

Man caught smuggling over 100 snakes stuffed in trousers from Hong Kong to China

A man has been detained for trying to smuggle more than 100 live snakes from Hong Kong into mainland China by cramming them into his trousers.

The man, who has not been identified, was stopped after he passed through the "nothing to declare" gate at the crossing between the semi-autonomous city and Shenzhen and customs officers found 104 snakes in six canvas drawstring bags in his trouser pockets.

The bags were shut and sealed with tape, the Chinese customs department said in a statement. “Each bag was found to contain living snakes in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colours.”

Non-native species along with milk snakes and corn snakes were among the reptiles seized by the customs on Tuesday.

People are prohibited from bringing non-native species without permission into China under biosecurity and disease control laws.

"Those who break the rules will be held liable in accordance with the law,” the customs department said.

A video shared by the authorities showed two officials peering into the plastic bags filled with mostly small snakes.

China is one of the world's largest animal trafficking hubs. Beijing has launched a crackdown on illegal animal trade but is struggling to contain it.

A 2020 investigation found that monkeys had been stolen from the wild and, together with cheetahs, tigers, rhinos, lions and meerkats, trafficked to circuses, theme parks, laboratories, zoos and “safari parks” in China.

In December 2023, a woman was caught trying to smuggle six live snakes inside her trouser pockets at the same border crossing between China and Hong Kong.

The woman was caught after attracting a customs official's attention by “appearing nervous and hurried” during luggage inspections.

Customs officers noticed her trouser pockets were overstuffed and a search found socks containing two live snakes. The reptiles were confirmed to be ball pythons, a non-venomous snake native to western and central Africa.

In August, a man was caught at the Futian Port in Shenzhen when he tried to smuggle 14 live snakes stuffed inside his pockets.

Agents reportedly noticed the passenger acting anxiously and dodging their looks. When they searched him they found he was carrying 14 snakes wrapped in socks and stockings in his trousers.