California Man Faces 20 Years In Jail For Smuggling Three King Cobras Into The United States

September 8, 2017

A man from Monterey Park, CA pleaded guilty to smuggling three king cobra snakes (Ophiophagus hannah) into the United States after customs officials found the snakes hidden in potato chip cans that were shipped to his home. The package also contained three Chinese albino soft-shelled turtles, which is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

king cobra

United States Attorney’s Office

Three king cobras were smuggled into the United States in potato chip cans.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Rodrigo Franco admitted that he had smuggled more than 20 cobras in three shipments, and in a trade for one shipment, Franco sent six endangered turtles to Hong Kong.

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King cobras require an export or re-export certificate from the country of origin in order to be shipped into the United States. A declaration must also be filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Franco nor the seller had the required documentation.

Franco faces 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release at his sentencing in December.

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