Smuggling snakes in socks over border

An Ontario man admits to smuggling snakes in his socks across the Canada-U.S. border.

An Ontario man who was caught trying to smuggle snakes into Canada in his socks has pleaded guilty in an American court.

Chaoyi Le, 28, is facing up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to violating wildlife regulations, according to prosecutors in Buffalo, N.Y.

Le’s lawyer, Victor Sherman, said he’s requesting a more lenient sentence of time served.

Le, described in court documents as a resident of Mississauga, Ont., was arrested in April 2014 at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge in western New York.

According to the complaint filed against him, Le was discovered with three western hog-nosed snakes concealed in his socks.

Le initially told customs agents he found the snakes in a New York park, but later admitted to purchasing them for about $500, the complaint said.

He had also mailed a package of snakes to China from the U.S. on the same day, court documents said.

The arrest marked the end of Le’s brief but active time sending live reptiles via mail, the documents said. The complaint said he began doing so in 2013, making several crossings from Ontario to the U.S.

The complaint said Le became a regular customer at a UPS store somewhere in the Buffalo area, where he would travel to send and receive packages.

Le came to the attention of customs officials once before the April 2014 incident, it said.

While en route to China from Toronto in February 2014, Le was stopped at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and was found to be travelling with an assortment of 55 reptiles, including pythons and turtles.

Le was charged in Canadian court with various wildlife violations, according to court documents.

After an initial court appearance, Le flew to China in the summer of 2014 — after his April arrest — and informed customs officials he would be there for the next year or two and would not be attending scheduled Canadian court dates, documents said.

The charges in Canada were ultimately withdrawn in July 2015, according to the American complaint.

Le was then arrested by U.S. authorities this past August when he flew to Los Angeles from Shanghai.

Sherman said Le is set to be sentenced on Oct. 30.

Just Posted

Kelowna council settles on 3.6 per cent tax increase for 2018

“Safety” budget heavy on a wide-range of public safety related spending

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15-to-19 year-olds, including one in Coldstream

Mail bandit puts damper on Christmas in Central Okanagan

Mail Box thefts have been reported throughout the Okanagan

West Kelowna RCMP seeks to reunite stolen items to owners

Numerous personal belongings were found during a seizure

Budget 2018: Kelowna to look at monitoring downtown security cameras 24 hours per day

Potential $30,000 budget item will be discussed further over objections of the mayor

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Debt-to-household-income ratio rises in third quarter

Total household credit market debt grew to $2.11 trillion in the third quarter

Charges in car wash shooting stalled

Court waits for police watchdog report on Salmon Arm incident.

B.C. Mountie told to resign after texting teenage sex assault victim

RCMP documents say Const. Brian Eden sent sexually inappropriate photos to 17-year-old girl

Family doctors should learn to treat addiction, not shun patients: scientist

B.C. Centre on Substance Use’s Dr. Evan Wood said efforts underway to change addiction medicine image

Four dog deaths investigated in Cranbrook

One vet suggests a parallel to these deaths and similar ones in 2016

Province rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops

KGHM Ajax had proposed a 1,700-hectare open-pit copper and gold mine, just southwest of Kamloops

Border officers rally at B.C.’s Peace Arch

CBSA employees tire of ‘lack of respect’

FCC votes along party lines to end ‘net neutrality’

Move rolls back restrictions that keep big providers from blocking services they don’t like

Most Read