King Cobras Coiled in Potato Chip Cans Lead Authorities to Tanks of Illegal Reptiles

A California man who accepted a package originally containing potato chip canisters with three live, tightly coiled king cobras inside was arrested Tuesday on federal smuggling charges.

In March, U.S. Customs agents intercepted a box from Hong Kong containing three king cobra snakes and three albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles. It was addressed to Rodrigo Franco, according to the Department of Justice.

Each of the cobras, about two-feet-long, were found alive. Federal agents removed the cobras, but delivered the turtles to Franco's home in Monterey Park, Calif., AP reports.

He accepted the package, and authorities with a warrant later searched his property. They found tanks, AP reports, holding a live baby Morelet's crocodile, alligator snapping turtles, a common snapping turtle and five diamond back terrapins — all protected species.

Franco faces smuggling charges that could trap him in prison for up to 20 years. 

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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