Quito, Ecuador (AFP) – A Japanese man was sentenced to two years in prison in Ecuador for attempting to smuggle a massive haul of creepy crawlies out of the country, officials said Thursday.

The defendant was arrested at the international airport in Quito in March with 248 spiders, cockroaches, wasps, bees and butterflies in his suitcases, the environment ministry said in a statement.

Identified only as Hirokazu S., the smuggler was also fined $4,000 and ordered to make a public apology in a national newspaper, the ministry said.

Ecuador, a relatively small corner of South America that is home to around 17 million, is one of the most biodiverse nations on the planet.

Authorities have banned the capture and sale of all wild animals, but illegal trade persists throughout the Amazon region.

The defendant intended to bring the animals, five of which are indigenous to Ecuador and some which were still alive, to the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan.

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