More Than 1,500 Turtles Were Found Duct Taped Inside 4 Unclaimed Suitcases at Airport

Combined Shape

You’d think with all the technology installed in airports, more people would be deterred from trying to smuggle illegal goods through. It’s hassle enough to get through TSA even when you don’t have any banned items on you.

The call of a fat paycheck still tempts some, though, and recently a wide array of turtles were discovered crammed into luggage that was left at an airport in Manila, Philippines.

Originating from Hong Kong, the suitcases contained $87,000 worth of turtles, according to PIX11. The reptiles had been duct-taped, ostensibly to keep them from shifting around and clawing through their containment.

“1,529 live exotic turtles were apprehended and turned over by Bureau of Customs NAIA to DENR Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit (DENR-WTMU) on March 3, 2019 at the NAIA Terminal 2, Pasay City,” the Bureau of Customs NAIA posted.

US Chamber of Commerce Defies Biden, Calls for Termination of Weekly Unemployment Perk

“The 1,529 live turtles (Star Tortoise, Redfoot Tortoise, Sulcata Tortoise, Red-eared Slider live species ) were found inside the left-behind luggage of a certain arriving Filipino passenger from flight PR 311 Hong Kong.”

Some were packed into cardboard boxes, others were taped into plastic storage containers with holes drilled in the sides and top.

Still others were duct-taped and wrapped in clothes inside the luggage.

“Our staff were taking care not to hurt them because duct tape was used to immobilize the turtles,” Carmelita Talusan, customs chief at the airport, said according to NowThis.

While one species of turtle was the fairly well-known and common red-eared slider, three others were listed as “vulnerable” and possession would have earned a hefty fine of up to $1.3 million dollars in Hong Kong.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped some black market entrepreneurs from trying their hand at smuggling, though the Bureau of Customs has a theory as to why these four suitcases of reptiles were never picked up.

Woman Allegedly Set Fire to Own Home with Person Still Inside, Then Sat in Lawn Chair to Watch It Burn

“The passenger may have been informed of the vigilance of Bureau of Customs against illegal wildlife trade and its penalties, thus leaving the four (4) X-Rayed luggage unclaimed in the arrival area,” their post continued.

“Illegal Wildlife Trading is a violation of RA 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act) and RA 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act).”


The post continued to explain that in 2018 alone, “250 geckos, 254 corals and other reptiles” were discovered in shipments, in baggage, and in other forms of transportation. In 2019 so far, their count has included chameleons, bearded dragons and iguanas.

Thankfully, these critters were discovered and given over to the proper authorities, where they will hopefully find better care and be kept off of the black market.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , ,
Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking