A Canadian citizen pleaded guilty today to six counts of smuggling turtles, some of which were endangered, from the United States in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced.
Kai Xu, 27, of Windsor, Ontario pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge John Corbett O’Meara in Ann Arbor.
At the plea hearing, Xu admitted that on six occasions in 2014 he entered the United States from Canada and traveled to Fed Ex and UPS facilities in the metro-Detroit area, where he retrieved packages that contained a variety of different species of live turtles. Xu then illegally smuggled the turtles out of the country using three methods. On some instances, Xu repackaged the turtles and shipped them directly to China, concealing the wildlife in snow boots. On one occasion, Xu taped the live turtles to his legs and groin (a total of 51 live turtles) and returned to Canada, smuggling the turtles in his pants to conceal them from customs officials. Finally, on the day of Xu’s arrest, he packaged over 1000 turtles into suitcases that he sent with a runner he had hired to fly directly from Detroit to Shanghai. The turtles were recovered by U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agents. They had been packaged into boots and cereal boxes and concealed within luggage.
Each count for which Xu pleaded guilty to carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has been set for April 12, 2016 at noon in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
This case was investigated by special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environment Canada.