Argentine Airport X-ray Surprise: Poisonous Snakes

Published December 27, 2011 10:00PM (EST)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A Czech man faces up to 10 years in prison in Argentina for allegedly trying to smuggle hundreds of poisonous snakes and endangered reptiles onto a plane bound for Europe.

Airport police made the man open his checked baggage after an X-ray scanner exposed the wriggling reptiles. They found 247 exotic and endangered species packed inside plastic containers, bags and even socks.

A judge says the boa constrictors, poisonous pit vipers and coral snakes, lizards and spiders could have escaped the cloth suitcase in the unpressurized cabin and perhaps attacked people in Madrid or Prague, where antidotes for South American snakes are rare.

Karel Abelovsky, 51, has refused to make a statement. The Buenos Aires zoo is keeping most of the reptiles.

(This version CORRECTS name to Karel instead of Karen)

By Salon Staff

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