BROOKLYN — A man who smuggled 42 endangered turtles into the city hidden in packets of noodles and candy pleaded guilty to illegally importing wildlife Monday, prosecutors said.
Federal Fish and Wildlife Service agents found five packages addressed to Hsien Lin "Jason" Hsu and labeled as containing “snacks” at John F. Kennedy airport on May 4 and May 11, according to court papers.
Inside the packets, investigators found dozens of endangered yellow-margined Chinese box turtles, black-breasted leaf turtles, Reeve’s turtles, Indian roofed turtles, South American river turtles and Chinese big-headed turtles. They had been sent from Hong Kong.
A postal inspector delivered the packages to Hsu’s home in Oakland Gardens, Queens, and agents then executed a search warrant on May 18 and found 135 live turtles.
Hsu told federal agents that he was aware he was trading in protected animals and had not attained the proper permits to ship the turtles internationally.
He said he had planned to mail the turtles to people throughout the U.S. in packages labeled “snacks.”
Hsu pleaded guilty before Judge William Kuntz in Brooklyn Federal Court in exchange for a sentence of up to 21 months in prison.
The government also seized dozens of turtles from Hsu's home after his arrest, including Indian roofed turtles, yellow-margined Chinese box turtles and Amazon river turtles.
His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.