Snakes on a plane – for real?

First it was monkeys, and now this. A Malaysian man pleaded guilty to smuggling after 95 live boa constrictors burst out of his bag on a luggage belt in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport last week.

Ken Liang “Anson” Wong, 52, was charged with exporting the snakes without a permit, said Shamsuddin Osman, a Malaysian wildlife department official. He will face six months in prison and the equivalent of a $50,000 fine, said Faridz Gohim Abdullah, a prosecuting officer representing Malaysia’s wildlife department. The maximum fine for this crime is up to seven years in jail.

Previously, Wong was sentenced to nearly six years in a U.S. prison in 2001 after he was found guilty of running an animal smuggling ring between Asia and Africa. He was arrested in Mexico in 1998. It is unknown if he served the full six-year sentence.

The most recent arrest took place as Wong was en route to Jakarta, Indonesia. The bag was also found to contain several other snakes and a turtle.

The criminal charges involve the boa constrictors only, because the other animals are not listed as endangered. All of the animals are alive and under the care of wildlife officials, Shamsuddin said.

In July, parliament passed a new law to punish poachers and smugglers more severely, but the act has not yet taken effect.

Activists are urging the government to seek the maximum seven year sentence against Wong, but it prosecutor Abdullah said he was planning to discuss with other government authorities whether to appeal the court’s ruling and seek a tougher sentence.

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Woman smuggled monkey into the U.S. from Thailand under her shirt

Not long ago,a woman was arrested in New Zealand for trying to smuggle three banana plants in her underwear. Here’s another smuggling story, but this woman almost got away with it.

In November 2007, the woman, looking to make money, smuggled a rhesus monkey into the U.S. from Thailand. She wasn’t arrested right then. Instead, she breezed right through U.S. customs without anyone noticing that she wasn’t pregnant at all, but had a drugged furry cutie tucked under her shirt.

Later, feeling pleased as punch with herself, she told a clothing store clerk about her escapade. The store clerk snitched.

Two days ago, the woman, along with her mother who went along to Bangkok for the heist, were found guilty of smuggling and conspiracy and will be sentenced in March.

I heard about this story on David Letterman last night. Letterman, in his sardonic way, embellished a bit. There were comments about no one noticing when, on the airplane, the woman started putting a banana down her shirt and a small hairy arm reached up to grab more. The joke went something like that. Intrigued, I looked up the story and came up with this article in Mail OnLine.

The article mentioned two other foiled attempts at animal smuggling that have recently earned one smuggler a conviction and jail time, and the other one an arrest that is still pending a trial.

The South African man, who was smuggling chameleons, snakes, lizards, and other rare critters that don’t sound easy to put under a jacket, was given a year in jail. He was trying to get them out of Madagascar. Perhaps the jacket was moving?

Another guy was caught with animals in his clothing and luggage in November. That guy is a zoology student. Perhaps he was obsessed with getting an A on a project that would really wow one of his instructors.