Colombia seizes over 300 spiders and scorpions being smuggled to Europe

Colombian authorities said 232 tarantulas were among the attempted shipment.
Colombian authorities said 232 tarantulas were among the attempted shipment. Copyright Secretaría Distrital de Ambiente de Bogotá
Copyright Secretaría Distrital de Ambiente de Bogotá
By Matthew Holroyd
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Two German citizens were allegedly found smuggling the arachnids in over 200 plastic containers.


Authorities in Colombia have seized over 300 spiders, scorpions, and cockroaches that were being smuggled to Europe.

The animals were found in 210 plastic containers at Bogotá's El Dorado International Airport, officials said on Thursday.

The arachnids were being illegally transported from the Colombian capital to Germany, they added.

A total of 232 tarantulas, nine spider eggs, 67 cockroaches, and one scorpion with seven offspring were recovered.

"The Environment Secretary was called to the site after airport police managed to identify a suspicious load," a statement read.

The animals were being transported in a suitcase by two German citizens, who claimed they were taking the animals for academic purposes.

The two suspects have been arrested on suspicion of transporting the arachnids without the necessary permits.

Meanwhile, the spiders, cockroaches, and scorpions have been transferred to a special facility.

"Professionals will carry out biological evaluations to determine ... if there is any degree of risk or threat," officials said.

"Following this process, the environmental authority will decide whether to release or relocate them."

Secretaría Distrital de Ambiente de Bogotá
Colombian authorities say the arachnids were being smuggled to Germany.Secretaría Distrital de Ambiente de Bogotá

"We remind the public that despite having supposed academic or research purposes, any research must have explicit permits from the environmental authorities," said Colombia's Environment Secretary Carolina Urrutia.

"This is the second case in less than three months in which wild animals have been seized at El Dorado airport," she added on Twitter.

In 2021, Colombian authorities say they have already recovered more than 11,000 species, more than 3,800 of which were already dead.

Wildlife traffickers often attempt to smuggle diverse species abroad through the Colombian capital.

In September, authorities seized 3,493 shark fins -- equivalent to between 900 and 1,000 sharks -- that were going to be illegally shipped to Hong Kong from El Dorado airport.

In October 2018, 23 tarantulas were also discovered hidden in several cereal boxes on their way to Seoul in South Korea.

"Since 2018 we have not had a shipment of tarantulas of this size, the largest we have had this year was shark fins, and the airport continues to be a focus of attention for wildlife trafficking in Bogotá," said Urrutia.

"Wild animals will always be better off free and at home," she added.

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