The Bureau of Customs has seized hundreds of venomous tarantulas smuggled alive into the Philippines from Poland.
According to the BOC, there were 757 spiders, said to be worth an estimated 310,000 pesos. They were concealed inside gift-wrapped oatmeal and cookies.
Agents assigned to the Port of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) found the endangered arachnids at the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City yesterday (Monday, April 1).
“The shipment was sent from Poland by a certain Wojciech Pakasz and was consigned to Jesse Camaro, a resident of Caloocan City,” said District Collector Carmelita Talusan in a statement today.
The trade in endangered wildlife is outlawed by Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, as well as RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
The BOC has now turned over the tarantulas to the Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
So far this year, the Port of NAIA has handed more than 2,152 smuggled creatures to the DENR.
Last month, for example, we reported how 1,529 live turtles and tortoises were found wrapped in duct tape and abandoned at the NAIA.
The reptiles, stuffed into four unclaimed pieces of luggage, had an estimated black-market value of more than 4.5 million pesos.
Police believe the bags were abandoned after the carrier became aware of the penalties for illegal wildlife trafficking.
If caught, they could have faced two years in jail and a fine of up to 200,000 pesos.
Among the turtles were varieties including star tortoises, red-footed tortoises, sulcata tortoises and red-eared sliders.
The BOC said they were left behind by a passenger who had arrived onboard a Philippine Airlines flight from Hong Kong.
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