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Snakes in a box, snakes in socks land Chinese man in court

A 28-year-old man from China admitted Tuesday he tried to smuggle live snakes through the U.S. postal service from Amherst to China.

Chaoyi Le, of Shanghai, China, pleaded guilty to false labeling under the Lacey Act, which bans trafficking in illegal wildlife, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Le in April  2014 sent seven live ball pythons from Amherst to Shanghai through the U.S. mail, using the fake name Ben Fan, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Le submitted a form that falsely declared the package contained belts, candy and chocolate with a value of $80, officials said. At the time, the ball pythons had an approximate value of $3,300, officials said.

The package was recovered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and inspected on May 3, 2014, prosecutors said.

On the same day he mailed the pythons,  Canadian border officials stopped Le as he attempted to enter Canada, the U.S Attorney's Office said. Three live albino western hog-nosed snakes were found hidden in his socks, officials said. The total value of the hog-nosed snakes was about $500.

Le faces up to five years in prison when he sentenced Oct. 30 in U.S. District Court.

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