A land turtle was found inside a cardboard box within a suitcase at the Mérida international airport.
The reptile was discovered with the use of a scanner during a routine security screening prior to boarding.
Upon making the discovery, security agents confiscated the animal and interrogated the person who was carrying it.
The man trying to smuggle the turtle was intending to transport the specimen to Monterrey, Nuevo León. The wildlife trafficking suspect claimed the turtle was his pet but was unable to produce documentation to prove legal ownership.
The turtle was then transported by Mexico’s national guard to a facility run by the Profepa, Mexico’s environment and wildlife ministry.
Earlier: Good news for Yucatán’s sea turtles
“This discovery of this turtle underscores the importance of security at our nation’s airports, not just for the sake of human security, but that of our environment as well,” said a joint press statement issued by Mexico’s national guard and Mérida’s international airport authority.
Seven known species of land turtles are known to be native to Yucatán, the most common being the Yucatán box turtle or Terrapene Carolina Yucatana.
A lucrative black market for exotic reptiles continues across Latin America, where they are used as food and considered to have medicinal properties. In other parts of the world, eggshells are used in ceremonies or turned into jewelry.
Last February, members of the national guard secured in Mexico City 75 iguanas, 34 turtles, a boa constrictor snake, and a tarantula which were being smuggled in four pieces of luggage.