BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Canadian man has been charged by criminal complaint with attempting to ship ten live snakes through the mail from the U.S.
Chaoyi Le, 28, of Mississauga, Ont., faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.
According to the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, Le was found in possession of 55 live reptiles in Feb. 2014 during an encounter with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel in Chicago. Le had been traveling from Toronto to Shanghai, China.
Many of the live reptiles (including ball pythons) found to be in his possession have afforded protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).Le was charged by a violation notice and paid a $5,000 fine.
Le was then stopped April 22, 2014, while entering Canada from the U.S. At that time, he had three live albino Western hog-nosed snakes hidden in his socks. Le indicated that he intended to mail the reptiles to China. He failed to report for his appearance in federal court in Sept. 2014.
On Aug. 11, 2017, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was notified that Le had boarded a flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles. Le was arrested upon landing in California. \
Le made an initial appearance Monday in the Central District of California court and will be returned to the Western District of New York at a later date.