Authorities found 1,529 live exotic turtles inside four pieces of luggage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday.
The turtles, which ranged from Star Tortoise, Redfoot Tortoise, Sulcata Tortoise, and Red-eared Slider, were all found taped inside an abandoned luggage of an anonymous Filipino passenger from flight PR 311 Hong Kong, according to the Bureau of Customs NAIA.
According to a Facebook announcement by the Customs, the turtles amounted to a total of P4.5 million with each of them costing P400 to P20,000 each.
Bureau of Customs NAIA noted that the passenger “may have been informed of the vigilance of Bureau of Customs against illegal wildlife trade and its penalties.” After all, most of the turtles smuggled were listed vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The Bureau of Customs NAIA turned over the turtles to DENR Widlife Traffic Monitoring Unit on Sunday, March 3, at the NAIA Terminal 2 in Pasay City.
The Customs is currently coordinating closely with the airline and airport officials to identify the passenger who left the luggage.
The violator may face imprisonment for one year and one day to two years and a fine of P20,000 to P200,000.