Hauptzollamt Potsdam

The man told customs officials that the three tortoises were chocolate

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March 21, 2019 11:05 AM

Perhaps he should have left these desserts in the desert.

A German man was busted by airport customs officials after he attempted to smuggle three Moroccan tortoises into the country by passing them off as chocolate.

The man, 69, flew into Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport from Cairo, Egypt, on March 2, according to a customs office press release translated from German.

 

Hauptzollamt Potsdam

Though he tried to enter Germany by way of a “green channel” meant for people without goods that need to be registered, he was inspected by officers, who found on him a package containing “strange contents.”

When asked what the package contained, the man claimed it was only chocolate – but officials quickly learned the three objects were actually tortoises.

Photos provided by customs officials show that the animals were arranged neatly in a box with a clear plastic top from a pastry shop called Etoile Patisserie.

As the animals are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention, they were confiscated and handed over to a border veterinarian, according to the release.

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The convention is an international agreement between governments since the ‘70s to ensure that “international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival,” according to the convention’s website. The tortoises are one of more than 5,000 animals and 30,000 plants protected.

The release says violating species protection regulations is punishable by fines up to the equivalent of $56,887, or up to five years in prison.

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