More than 300 Smuggled Insects Found in a Colombian Airport

The+El+Dorado+Airport

The El Dorado Airport

On December 2nd, two Germans were caught trying to board their flight back to Europe at the El Dorado Airport in Colombia. They were smuggling 232 tarantulas, a scorpion with seven offspring, nine spider eggs, and 67 giant cockroaches. The two tried to get away with it by saying they were bringing them back for scientific purposes. Even if what they said was true, they didn’t have any permits or other documentation to make their actions legal. 

Once the customs officers opened the bag, they found a total of 210 plastic containers full of tarantulas, scorpions, and cockroaches. The containers were wedged in between rolls of film. The animals consisted of giant cockroaches (Blaberidae),  tarantulas (Theraphosidae), trapdoor spiders (Barychelidae), and members of the Buthidae scorpion family. According to Live Science, these creatures were caught in the wild at the San Luis de Gaceno municipality in Bogota’s department of Boyacá. The smugglers could possibly face fines, criminal, and civil prosecution. The Colombian law enforcement hasn’t specified any charges, but the animals were sent to the Environment Ministry for assessment before determining if they were fit to be returned to their homes in the wild.

A similar case happened in September earlier this year when Colombian authorities found 3,493 shark fins and 256 fish swim bladders that were headed for Hong Kong. Sadly, in order for these fins to have been acquired, about 900 to 1000 sharks would have been killed.

Unfortunately, “This is the second case in less than three months in which wild animals have been seized at El Dorado airport. During this year we have already recovered more than 11,000 specimens throughout the city. Once again, wild animals will always be better off free and at home,” Bogota’s environment secretary, Carolina Urrutia, said on Twitter. Out of these 11,000 insects, only 7,058 were alive. 

Because Colombia is a habitat for many creepy crawlies, it has become a popular target for smuggling operations. Colombia is home to over ten thousand different species of insects. Likewise, Europe has the biggest market for illegal tarantulas. Earlier, during the year 2021, a Venezuelan and Polish man was caught attempting to smuggle out nine tarantulas.

The two Germans are now facing severe penalties. It isn’t clear yet if they will be facing a fine or actual prison sentence, but they’ll be regretting their decision regardless of either outcome.