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You Can't Mail Tarantulas from Germany to L.A.
A man accused of smuggling hundreds (hundreds!) of tarantulas (tarantulas!) into the United States via U.S. mail was arrested by undercover federal agents yesterday after he arrived in Los Angeles, according to KTLA.
Sven Koppler of Watchtberg, Germany has been under investigation since March when a routine search of an international package revealed 300 live tarantulas that were being shipped to L.A. without being declared and without permits. The investigation was aptly named "Operation Spiderman."
Fish and Wildlife agents intercepted another package that contained 250 live tarantulas, including 22 Mexican red-kneed tarantulas, a species that is protected under an international treaty and can only be legally traded with special permits.
His final spider slip-up? Undercover agents posed as customers and Koppler took their orders for dozens of tarantulas. It is believed he made $300,000 in international spider sales and many in the tarantula trade regard Koppler as a well-known and highly respected dealer.
He is charged with one count of illegally importing wildlife into the U.S. and faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.