Seven ball pythons and three albino western hog-nosed snakes are at the center of Buffalo's latest federal prosecution.
Chaoyi Le, 28, of Mississauga, Ont., is charged with attempting to illegally export the pythons and other snakes from the United States. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Le was arrested on Aug. 11 in California after departing his plane from Shanghai. He had previously failed to report for a 2014 federal court appearance in Buffalo.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango said Le was found in 2014 to be in possession of 55 live reptiles while traveling from Toronto to Shanghai.
Mango said many of the reptiles are covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. The treaty provided protection to fish, wildlife and plants that are at risk because of the demands of international markets.
The government also claims Le was in possession of other ball pythons, surinam horned frogs, two tiger leg tree frogs, four red eye tree frogs, five crested geckos, four giant day geckos, a fisher chameleon and 10 Jackson’s chameleons.
The defendant, according to prosecutors, was stopped in 2014, while entering Canada from the U.S.
Prosecutors said Le had three live albino western hog-nosed snakes hidden in his socks and later claimed he was going to mail the reptiles to China.
Le then failed to report for his federal court appearance, leading to his arrest in California last week.
The charges against Le are the result of an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service.