Sydney – U.S. and Australian authorities are investigating the smuggling of snakes and venomous spiders that were found in a parcel in Sydney, an official said Wednesday.
Customs Service officers in Australia's biggest city discovered five harmless pythons and two dangerous South American tarantulas at the Sydney airport last week when they X-rayed a package that had been posted from the United States, Customs investigations manager Richard Janeczko said.
The creatures were later killed because they posed a quarantine risk, Janeczko said in the capital, Canberra.
Janeczko would not say from where in the United States the parcel — declared as baby toys and shirts — had been posted.
He said Australian officials based in Washington were communicating with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on a U.S. investigation into who had sent the parcel.
In Australia, charges were expected to be laid against at least one alleged importer after customs officers and police raided a Sydney home Tuesday and seized evidence, Janeczko said.
Importing snakes or spiders without a license can attract maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $92,000 fine.