A German man has been arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly mailing more than 500 live tarantulas to the U.S., authorities said.
Special agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service arrested Sven Koppler when he traveled to Los Angeles to meet with an associate, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles said.
Koppler, 37, of Wachtberg, Germany, is accused of sending more than 500 live tarantulas through the mail. The spiders included 22 Mexican red-kneed tarantulas, a protected species whose formal name is Brachypelma smithi.
Authorities say Koppler was paid $300,000 for the arachnids.
If found guilty, he could serve up to 20 years in prison and pay a fine of as much $250,000.
"The entire Brachypelma genus is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) because it is being threatened by international trade," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "Specimens can only be legally traded if CITES permits first are obtained from the exporting country."
The arrest was the culmination of an investigation known as "Operation Spiderman."
Authorities began tracking Koppler in March, when they discovered about 300 live tarantulas during a routine search of an international package.
Agents then engaged Koppler in a sting operation, ordering and receiving dozens of live tarantulas, authorities said. ...
via 'Operation Spiderman' Busts German Man Accused of Mailing Tarantulas.
Wouldn't that technically be a "Bite Operation"? Tarantula's don't sting.
Despite their often threatening appearance and reputation, no tarantula has been known to have a bite that is deadly to humans. In general, the effects of the bites of all kinds of tarantula are not well known. While the bites of many species are known to be no worse than a wasp sting, accounts of bites by some species are reported to be very painful and to produce intense spasms that may recur over a period of several days; the venom by the African tarantula Pelinobius muticus also causes strong hallucinations . In all cases, it is prudent to seek medical aid. Because other proteins are included when a toxin is injected, some individuals may suffer severe symptoms due to an allergic reaction rather than to the venom. Such allergic effects can be life-threatening.