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Thailand airport seizes 431 reptiles smuggled in luggage

June 2, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of animals are seized in an unusual smuggling bust in Bangkok.

Thai customs officials at the airport found hundreds of rare and endangered reptiles packed in four large suitcases Wednesday.

The 431 animals include gharials, which are a type of crocodile native to India, plus Indian star and roofed tortoises. They've valued at more than $33,000.

Investigators say many of the reptiles are endangered and international trade is banned. They are trying to find the owner of the suitcases, who didn't show up to claim his bags after he arrived from Bangladesh.

The animals would be held for evidence and taken care of by wildlife officials.

Thailand is a hub for the illegal wildlife trade. A smuggling attempt thwarted last month involved two leopards, two panthers, an Asiatic black bear and two macaque monkeys- all juveniles about the size of puppies.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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