California man arrested for smuggling live king cobras in potato chip cans

A California man was arrested on federal smuggling charges Tuesday after customs officers say three king cobras were shipped to him hidden inside potato chip canisters.

Rodrigo Franco, 34, was taken into custody at his him in Monterey Park and faces a felony count of illegally importing merchandise into the US, reports the LA Times. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

The shipment of snakes was intercepted by Customs and Border Protection officers in March. The package also contained three albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles in the package.

After searching Franco’s home, authorities discovered a baby crocodile, alligator snapping turtles, and five diamond back terrapins – all are protected species under US law.  Franco told officials he had previously received two other packages with 20 king cobras – all of which he said died in transit, according to Pasadena Star News.

Two of the cobras seized are currently at the San Diego Zoo where they are being treated.  The other cobra died for unknown reasons.

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