More than 5,000 turtles worth £10,000 seized in luggage at Malaysian airport

·Freelance Writer
Customs officials display seized turtles at the customs office Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Sepang, Malaysia. Two Indian citizens were arrested due to smuggling attempt into the country on a flight from Guangzhou, China with thirty-two small boxes packed with 5,225 red-eared slider turtles. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Customs officials display seized over 5,000 turtles at Kuala Lumpur Airport (AP)

Customs agents in Malaysia have seized more than 5,000 turtles from luggage at Kuala Lumpur Airport, along with thousands of pounds worth of drugs.

Senior customs official Zulkurnain Mohamed Yusof said agents found 5,255 baby red-ear slider turtles kept in small baskets in the luggage of two Indian nationals who flew in from Guangzhou, China, on June 20.

He said the men had no permits for the turtles and told investigators that the terrapins, estimated to be worth about £10,000, were meant to be sold as pets in India.

Customs officials display seized turtles after a press conference at the customs office Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Sepang, Malaysia. Two Indian citizens were arrested due to smuggling attempt into the country on a flight from Guangzhou, China with thirty-two small boxes packed with 5,225 red-eared slider turtles. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Agents found 5,255 baby red-ear slider turtles kept in small baskets (AP)
Customs officials display seized turtles at the customs office Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Sepang, Malaysia. Two Indian citizens were arrested due to smuggling attempt into the country on a flight from Guangzhou, China with thirty-two small boxes packed with 5,225 red-eared slider turtles. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
The turtles were found in the luggage of two Indian nationals who flew in from Guangzhou, China, on June 20 (AP)

The men are expected to be charged and could face up to five years in jail and a fine, he said.

Mr Zulkarnain said officials also found 14.34kg of methamphetamine worth 717,000 ringgit (£136,000), hidden in special compartments in boxes that were hand-carried by two men.

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One of them flew in from Hyderabad, India, on June 19 and another on June 20 from Bengaluru, he said.

The two men, believed to be drug mules, are expected to be charged and face the death penalty if convicted.

Customs officials display seized turtles at the customs office Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Sepang, Malaysia. Two Indian citizens were arrested due to smuggling attempt into the country on a flight from Guangzhou, China with thirty-two small boxes packed with 5,225 red-eared slider turtles. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
The terrapins, estimated to be worth about £10,000, were meant to be sold as pets in India (AP)

The red-ear slider is one of the world's most commonly traded turtles meant for the pet and meat markets.

Permits are required as young turtles are susceptible to carrying salmonella and pose health concerns.

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