Well, this is one way to try to smuggle snakes, I suppose. A resident of Richmond Hill, New York, recently pleaded guilty to smuggling three Burmese pythons into the United States from Canada. But the interesting part of the story is not just what he smuggled — but how he tried to do it.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York, 37-year-old Calvin Bautista tried to smuggle three exotic snakes across the U.S.-Canada border at the Champlain Port of Entry. “Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers discovered the snakes while reviewing Bautista’s passport and conducting a border search,” wrote Attorney’s Office. “The young adult snakes were in bags attached to Bautista’s pants near his inner thigh.”
Though the attempt took place in 2018, charges were not announced against Bautista until October 2022. The charges resulted from a joint investigation between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. On June 28, 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Bautista had pleaded guilty to illegally trafficking exotic snakes without the required permits.
Sentencing is scheduled for October 2023 with Senior United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn. Bautista faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. Turns out, trying to smuggle snakes in your pants is a bad idea.
Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia, though in recent years the constrictor snake has taken over parts of South Florida. The exotic snakes cannot survive in cold climates. In March, authorities found a 14-foot reticulated python on the side of a road on Long Island. That snake was deceased when it was found.