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Trouser snakes! Man on US federal charges after ‘smuggling pythons in his clothing’

Python (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)
Python (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Archive)

A man has been charged with smuggling three Burmese pythons in his trousers at a US-Canadian border crossing.

Calvin Bautista, 36, is accused of bringing the hidden snakes on a bus that crossed into northern New York on July 15, 2018.

Importation of Burmese pythons is regulated by an international treaty and by federal regulations listing them as “injurious to human beings”.

Bautista, from New York, was arraigned on Tuesday on the federal smuggling charge and released pending trial, according to a news release from the office of US Attorney Carla B Freedman.

The charge carries the potential for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine as high as 250,000 dollars (£223,000), according to prosecutors.

The Burmese python, one of the world’s largest snakes, is considered a vulnerable species in its native Asia and is invasive in Florida, where it threatens native animals.

There are estimated to be tens of thousands of the creatures in the Sunshine State, roaming free in the wild, with some experts placing that figure closer to 100,000.

Because of their imported status, the reptiles challenge native species for food and land, with the state experiencing the near eradication of small mammals, according to Dan Ashe, the head of US Fish and Wildlife.

It is unclear the size of the snakes in the case, but in the wild, Burmese pythons typically grow to 5 metres in length,