Apparently due to wealthy Hollywood types’ yearning for exotic pets, Los Angeles International Airport — its friends call it LAX — has long been known as animal smuggling central. In the most recent high-profile incident, Japanese passengers were busted for sneaking 55 live tortoises and turtles in luggage.
AOL spoke to a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who says that kind of thing is common. Smugglers have been caught sneaking in Asian reptiles and monkeys, Australian geckos and Latin American parrots.
The agent said airports in New York, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco are also popular animal-smuggling destinations.
The agent said people will pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for forbidden animals, which themselves pay the ultimate price.
“Our intelligence tells us people who smuggle live birds from South America or Mexico count on a 50 percent fatality rate during travel. So they bring in twice as many as they want to sell,” the agent says.