A Canadian man allegedly caught with 51 live turtles stuffed down his pants as he tried to re-enter Canada from the U.S. was denied bail in Detroit on Friday.
Following an appearance in federal district court, Kai Xu, 26, of Windsor, Ont., was remanded in custody, said Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman with the U.S. attorney’s office.
Co-accused Lihua Lin of the Toronto area was released earlier this week on US$10,000 bail on condition he have no contact with Xu and that he enter the U.S. only for court.
According to American court documents, officers with the Canada Border Services Agency intercepted Xu as he attempted to cross into Windsor from Detroit last month.
Xu was found to have 51 live turtles — 41 strapped to his legs and 10 hidden between his legs, Kenneth Adams, a special agent with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stated in an affidavit outlining the criminal complaint.
Canadian authorities seized the turtles, which included North American varieties such as eastern box turtles, red-eared sliders and diamondback terrapins — some of which sell for $800 each — and turned them over to American officials.
Xu and Lin, 30, were arrested and charged in U.S. district court this week following an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Both are charged with smuggling, illegal trading, and exporting and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
The investigation began in August after a courier company in Detroit tipped the wildlife service to a package that had been shipped from Alabama addressed to Xu.
According to the court documents, agents watched as Xu allegedly opened various boxes in the rear of his SUV, took out several round clear plastic containers, and placed their contents into plastic baggies. He also had packaging tape and scissors.
“Special Agent (James) Fuller noticed irregularly shaped bulges under Xu’s sweatpants on both his legs,” the document states.
Xu then drove toward Windsor, where he was stopped and the turtles found during a secondary inspection.
On Wednesday, according to the court documents, Xu dropped Lin off at the airport bound for Shanghai, China. Lin was arrested after a search of his checked luggage turned up more than 200 North American pond turtles.