Colombia Arrests Two Germans for Attempting to Smuggle Hundreds of Arachnids to Europe

by Matthew Memrick

Authorities caught two German men trying to smuggle hundreds of creepy Colombia arachnids into Europe on Thursday.

Bogota airport officials caught the men with 210 plastic containers that held the arachnids. They contained 232 tarantula spiders, nine spider eggs, a scorpion with seven of its young, and 67 roaches.

After airport police stumbled on the shipment, the country’s environmental secretary came to identify a suspicious load.

The men tried to say the spiders were en route to a university, but they did not have the proper permits. Officials continue to monitor Colombia’s 168 airports for these smuggling operations.

Colombian Officials Target Arachnid Smugglers Lately

Wildlife traffickers look to the South American country where tens of thousands of different species live. Colombia is one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries.

Reportedly, there are 1,800 bird species, 600 amphibians, 500 species of reptiles, and 3,200 species of fish in the country.

Officials say they’ve taken more than 11,000 specimens of animals and insects this year. They said more than 3,800 of that number were already dead.

International journalism organization InSight Crime reported that between 2008 and 2013, Colombia intercepted endangered species that had a commercial value of about $29 million.

Criminal networks profit and sometimes rural and Indigenous people get tricked or offered food in illegal deals.

While rural and Indigenous people can poach, criminal networks profit from the illegal wildlife trade.

Colombians Find Arachnids And Shark Fins

Besides arachnids, officials discovered a shipment of shark fins this year. Other animals usually smuggled are parrots, tortoises, venomous frogs, monkeys, and sloths.

“We haven’t had a shipment of tarantulas this size since 2018 (and) the largest we have had this year was shark fins,” Bogota’s environment secretary, Carolina Urrutia, said in a statement.

In September, Colombian officials caught an illegal shipment of 3,493 shark fins and 258 pounds of fish swim bladders destined for Hong Kong. Officials said that’s roughly between 900 and 1,000 sharks. 

Euronews said officials moved the spiders, cockroaches, and scorpions to a special facility. After an examination, officials may release or relocate the animals depending on any risk or threat.

As for the Germans, the Washington Post said officials would prosecute the men, and fines are possible.

In October 2018, smugglers picked cereal boxes to smuggle 23 tarantulas to Seoul in South Korea. But Euronews said officials foiled that attempt.

According to the California website Mongabay, traffickers targeted birds in early 2016. One group of eight people called itself “The Birders” and operated in west-central Colombia before getting dismantled that July. 

Between January and September 2016, officials arrested 5,060 animal traffickers while recovering 6,878 Colombian sliders, 1,505 iguanas, 1,144 red-footed tortoises, and 2,837 alligators or caimans.

“Wild animals will always be better off free and at home,” Urrutia told Euronews.