Operation Flying Turtle nabs two Japanese allegedly smuggling 55 live turtles into LAX in snack food boxes

The L.A. Times reports that federal officials arrested two Japanese men for allegedly smuggling 55 live turtles into LAX in snack food boxes.

Atsushi Yamagami, 39, and Norihide Ushirozako, 49, were arrested Friday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after an undercover sting operation, according to a statement by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Authorities said they infiltrated the ring over the last few months in an investigation known as "Operation Flying Turtle."

Prosecutors said the charges carry a maximum possible federal prison sentence of 20 years.

"In August 2010, Hiroki Uetsuki, an associate of Yamagami and Ushirozako, traveled from Osaka, Japan, and arrived at Honolulu International Airport," where turtles were discovered in his suitcase, prosecutors said.

"After U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents arrested Uetsuki, he informed the agents that Yamagami paid him approximately 100,000 yen (approximately $1,200) and his travel expenses to smuggle turtles and tortoises into the United States," officials said.

This entry was posted in Wacky and Weird and tagged , , , , by Douglas Powell. Bookmark the permalink.

About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time