Chinese Flight Attendants Booted From U.S. For Turtle Smuggling

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Two Chinese flight attendants have been fined and will be deported from the U.S. after being convicted of smuggling protected turtles.

The pair used international stopovers in Los Angeles to purchase and smuggle spotted and box turtles to China, where they fetch large sums on the black market.

Chinese Eastern Airlines crew members Huaqian Qu, 41, and Renfeng Gao, 31 had pleaded guilty to smuggling charges and potentially faced a prison term of up to five years.

Prosecutors said the pair had been smuggling turtles for some time and were caught when an eagle-eyed, turtle-loving TSA agent spotted the reptiles in Qu's luggage at LAX.

The TSA agent ascertained they were illegally smuggling “based on his enthusiasm for turtles as a teenager” court documents said.

The two flight attendants were attempting to smuggle a total of 45 turtles.

As well as the fine they received probation and will be booted from the U.S. within three days

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