Men Allegedly Smuggled 7,000 Turtles Into China

Hong Kong police have arrested two men accused of trying to smuggle more than 7,000 live pet turtles to mainland China, the government said Friday.

Marine police intercepted the two men Wednesday as they were loading about 300 cartons onto speedboats, a government statement said. The cartons were filled with clear plastic containers containing the tiny dark green turtles, each smaller than a human palm, a photograph published in the Ming Pao Daily News showed.

The turtles were seized along with counterfeit computer video discs. Together the turtles and discs were worth a total of $820,000, the statement said.

Most of the animals were snapping turtles, a species found in Canada and South America. Razorback musk turtles, native to the U.S., were also found. None of the smuggled species were endangered, agricultural department spokesman Donald Lam said.

The animals were worth between $21 to $192 each. There is a growing market in mainland China for pet turtles, the Ming Pao paper quoted marine police inspector Lai Chi-hung as saying.

Police detained the two men but others in their group escaped in speedboats, it said.