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247 snakes, reptiles found in suitcase

A Czech national could face 10 years in prison after Buenos Aires airport screeners found 247 living snakes and reptiles — including poisonous vipers — in the bulging suitcase he tried to check on a flight to Madrid, Agence France-Presse says.

The “organic substances moving inside” were packed in clear plastic containers, workers at the Iberia Airlines desk at Ezeiza Airport discovered after the bag was X-rayed, AFP says, citing local media. Some are reported to be extremely rare and protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Among the writhing cargo were South American pit vipers, yararas and several young boas. Two snakes were dead, and authorities said more would have died from lack of oxygen had they been loaded onto the plane.

Karel Abelovsky, 51, was charged with attempted smuggling.

The incident happened Dec. 7 but was just reported today.

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