A Chinese man was caught this week trying to smuggle hundreds of live scorpions in his checked luggage while flying from Sri Lanka, according to reports.
The man, 30, tried to stuff 200 of the creepy crawlers into his suitcase, which was then discovered on Monday by airport officials, CNN reported. The man was apparently trying to take the critters from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport to Guangzhou in southern China.
A unnamed Chinese traveler was caught red-handed when he attempted to smuggle 200 live scorpions out of Sri Lanka on Monday, according to a spokeswoman for Sri Lanka Customs https://t.co/BTbNkHYb4e— CNN International (@cnni) January 15, 2020
According to CNN, citing a notice from the Hong Kong Department of Health, scorpions are sometimes used in Traditional Chinese Medicine with the claim they can be beneficial for pain relief in muscles and nerves.
The scorpions themselves were packed in at least seven different plastic boxes. The man who tried to smuggle them was released after he paid a fine of 100,000 Sri Lankan rupees, or just over $551.
"These scorpions were collected from several areas in Sri Lanka," Sri Lanka Customs spokesman Sunil Jayarathna told CNN. "While the venomous scorpions are not deadly, they are protected."
In Sri Lanka, there are about 18 different species of venomous scorpions, according to the BBC, with only one being fatal.
According to the BBC, Sri Lanka has been trying to crack down on wildlife trafficking, but in fact attempts at smuggling animals have been going up. In June, the network reported that several officials were charged with catching baby elephants and accused of trying to sell them. And three years ago, the country destroyed rare birds nests from traffickers, which are used as an ingredient in soup in several Asian countries.
While the man did not succeed in bringing the scorpions on the plane, there have been several instances of the arachnids being found on flights. In December, a woman was stung by a scorpion mid-flight on a United Airlines plane from San Francisco to Atlanta and in February 2019, a woman was stung on a plane from Toronto to Calgary.