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Colombia busts tarantula smuggler

BOGOTA (AFP) – Colombian authorities on Thursday confiscated 143 tarantulas being smuggled to Mexico to be sold as pets, officials said.

The spiders had been stored in plastic bags on a cargo plane, Bogota’s Environment Office said in a statement. Twelve of the tarantulas suffocated to death.

The shipment did not “have the permits that demonstrate its origin and legal mobilisation”, the agency said. Police were investigating the “sender and recipient” of the animals, they added.

In November, the Ministry of the Environment seized 232 tarantulas destined for Europe.

Colombian animal and conservation law includes criminal penalties and hefty fines, in one of the world’s most biodiverse countries.