Tax officials jump on frog smuggler
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Tax officials jump on frog smuggler

Passenger on flight from New York caught with 18 South American amphibians hidden in his suitcase

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Two green and black poison dart frogs after they were confiscated at Ben Gurion airport, April 15, 2013. (photo credit: Israel Nature and Parks Authority/Flash90)
Two green and black poison dart frogs after they were confiscated at Ben Gurion airport, April 15, 2013. (photo credit: Israel Nature and Parks Authority/Flash90)

Custom officials were hopping mad at what they discovered in the suitcase of man who landed at Ben Gurion Airport — 18 rare frogs hidden in containers secreted among his clothes.

The man aroused the suspicions of inspectors when he arrived on a flight from New York last Friday and passed through customs in the “nothing to declare” green lane. A quick search of his belongings revealed three smartphones for which he hadn’t paid import tax duty. A more thorough examination of the traveler’s suitcase uncovered boxes containing a total of 18 South American frogs, each of which has a street value of several hundred shekels.

The frogs were handed over to the airport agricultural department. During questioning the man admitted that he had brought the creatures to sell them in Israel.

Israel maintains tight controls on the import of animals in order to prevent foreign species from damaging the local ecosystem and water resources and transmitting diseases to other animals or people.

In April 2013 customs official intercepted three men who tried to smuggle poisonous South American dart frogs into Israel on a flight from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv. The poison dart frogs, some species of which produce one of nature’s most lethal venoms, are prized by collectors and sell for NIS 250-600 ($70-165) each.

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