Busted for Trying to Board Plane With 27 Snakes

By Suzan Clarke

Aug 27, 2012 9:03am
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Orange County Jail

A Brazilian man was arrested for trying to board a flight at Orlando International Airport while carrying 27 snakes that he’d wrapped in pantyhose and stashed away in inside stereo speakers,  authorities said.

Mateus Del Maso, Jr.  checked the speakers as luggage, but they were inspected and the snakes hidden inside were discovered.  The creatures never made it onto the aircraft.

Dal Maso purchased the serpents at the National Reptile Breeders Expo in Daytona Beach, Fla. He admitted he was going to carry the snakes – which he valued at about $10,000 – into Brazil and breed them for commercial purposes, a release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

He did not have the proper authorization to take the reptiles — one ball python, seven boa constrictors, and 19 color morph corn snakes — into Brazil.

Dal Maso pleaded guilty on Aug. 23 to attempting to smuggle the snakes. He served two days in Orange County Jail and was fined $6,000. He was also sentenced to one year of supervised release, and must report to a probation officer within 72 hours of his arrival if he ever returns to the U.S.

The snakes were taken to an undisclosed care facility.

The arrest came about as a result of a multi-agency law enforcement operation that’s been dubbed “Operation Snake Pit.” The program seeks to prevent the illegal shipping of reptiles.

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