By Craig Pearson
A Windsor man has been arrested at the Ambassador Bridge after allegedly trying to smuggle more than 70 live turtles and tortoises into Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency said Tuesday the arrest and seizure was made in the late afternoon of July 6 after the 22-year-old was directed to secondary inspection.
While searching the vehicle, border services officers discovered two boxes containing 76 live turtles and tortoises, worth more than $6,000, hidden in a compartment normally used for stowing seats.
Xin Hong Tong faces charges under the Customs Act of nonreporting, making false statements and attempting to evade payment of duties and taxes. He was released but his next appearance is Aug. 12 in Ontario court.
Environment Canada enforcement officers took custody of the reptiles. More charges are expected under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.
Environment Canada did not identify the species, pending further investigation, but the federal government agency will care for the animals until the court case is settled.
If the turtles and tortoises are forfeited, Environment Canada could find homes for the reptiles in zoos or other suitable facilities.
"Reptile smuggling is not uncommon in Canada," Environment Canada spokesman Mark Johnson said in an email. "It ranges from the illegal import of one specimen to be used as a pet, to multi-specimen and species commercial-size imports numbering in the thousands. More....