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2 Russians jailed in Singapore for smuggling endangered turtles

2 Russians jailed in Singapore for smuggling endangered turtles

The two men were caught smuggling the animals when they were in transit at Changi Airport, while travelling from Bangladesh to Indonesia, says AVA.

SINGAPORE: Two Russian nationals were on Wednesday (Oct 14) sentenced to 15 months in jail for smuggling 206 endangered turtles, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Pavlychev Maksim, 38, and Radkov Aleksei, 34, were detained at Changi Airport on Jul 9, 2015, when they were in transit while travelling from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka to Surabaya, Indonesia, said AVA in a news release. Their jail terms were backdated to the same day.

An aviation security officer at Changi Airport had found four luggage bags stuffed with 206 live black pond turtles. The animals are a critically-endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The four luggage bags which contained the 206 black pond turtles. (Photo: AVA)

Investigations revealed that the men had been approached by a friend to deliver the turtles to Indonesia. The turtles are estimated to be worth S$90,000 and are believed to be in high demand in the exotic pet trade, said AVA.

The luggage bags were lined with diapers and cloth to absorb the turtles’ excrement, said AVA, adding that the animals were found dehydrated and “in poor condition”. So far 27 of the turtles have died or had to be put down, while the remaining animals are under the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

The luggage bags used to contain the black pond turtles were lined with cloth and diapers. (Photo: AVA)

Those found importing, exporting or re-exporting CITES species, including their parts and products, without a permit could be fined up to S$50,000 per species and/or sentenced to up to two years in jail. Also, those found guilty of animal cruelty could face a maximum fine of S$10,000 and/or up to 12 months’ jail.