A Canadian airport sniffer dog discovered a suitcase containing 5,000 live leeches in an October incident that was just brought to light over the weekend.
The man, whose name wasn’t released, allegedly had the leeches in his suitcase while he was at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Oct. 17, National Geographic reported Friday. The sniffer dog, a beagle, that made the discovery was working with the Canada Border Services Agency.
The man was charged with illegally importing an international species without a required permit and faces a court hearing in Toronto next month, the magazine reported. The agency said the investigation is ongoing and that prevents it from releasing the man’s name.
The man reportedly told airport officials the leeches were for his personal use and that the leeches’ waste water would enrich his flowers. However, Andre Lupert, of the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate at Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ontario Region, remained skeptical.
“This sort of leech quantity would suggest it was for commercialization,” he told National Geographic.
He explained that some people use leeches as a form of naturopathic medicine, believing the leeches relieve the pain or cleanse the body of so-called “bad” blood.
Leeches have been used for centuries to treat diseases that were believed to be caused by an excess of blood.