A Canadian turtle smuggler is expected to plead guilty in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Tuesday, after being arrested last year for trying to travel across the border with 51 live turtles shoved in his pants.
Officials said Kai Xu frequently ordered turtles online and either traveled to the U.S. to bring them home or shipped them to China, where he could sell them for large sums of money, the Associated Press reports. The smuggled turtles included Eastern box turtles, red-eared sliders, and diamondback terrapins, some valued at around $800 each, according to the Huffington Post. Back when the arrest took place, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Melissa Maraj told the Detroit News, “Although this sounds really extreme, we see cases like this across the nation. People use a lot of ingenuity and creativity. Unfortunately, it’s a sign of desperation.”
Xu reportedly had 41 turtles taped to and 10 hidden between his legs when he was stopped from returning to Windsor, Ontario, in late 2014. Authorities had suspected Xu for some time and had witnessed him earlier opening boxes in the rear of his SUV, which also held packaging tape and scissors (presumably for attaching the turtles to his legs).
“Special Agent (James) Fuller noticed irregularly shaped bulges under Xu’s sweatpants on both his legs,” court documents said.
After a secondary inspection at the border, Xu was arrested, and the turtles were handed over to American authorities, where they are probably hoping to live the rest of their lives without ever again being strapped to a human thigh.