2 China Eastern FAs Are Facing Charges for Turtle Smuggling
TPG has seen flight attendants smuggle cocaine (with one FA strapping 9 pounds to his body), $500,000 in cash and $1.4 million of heroin, but this is the first time we've heard of flight attendants smuggling dozens of turtles in carry-on luggage.
On May 12, two China Eastern flight attendants were about to fly from Los Angeles to China with the turtles when the TSA spotted "unusual round objects" in their carry-ons. The bags contained a total of 45 live turtles – 31 spotted turtles and 14 box turtles. Altogether, they're worth about $40,000 in Asia, where it's apparently popular to buy US species of turtles.
According to New York Post, "the turtles’ colorful shells are believed to bring good luck in China, and their meat supposedly increases sexual prowess when eaten."
The China-based FAs, Huaqian Qu and Renfeng Gao, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge, which could have gotten them up to five years in prison. They've been spared, though. After being ordered to leave the country within 72 hours of the incident, they were fined $5,500 each by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and sentenced to three years on probation.
According to the judge who ordered the punishment, US District Judge S. James Otero, the probation was a reasonable punishment for the flight attendants, despite prosecutors pushing for 10-month prison sentences.
H/T: AP News