Some criminals get caught in the act of smuggling strange cargo and are not always very clever about heir tactics. In the United States, wildlife smuggling is the nation’s second-largest black market, (behind narcotics), worth $9 billion a year.

Some of the more interesting highlights seen at Los Angeles International Airport include: In 2006 A Japanese man was arrested for smuggling Queen Alexandra’s birdwings, one of the largest butterflies in the world, worth $8,500 USD. And in the same year four people were accused of trafficking in the endangered dragon fish.

In 2002 A Palm Springs man attempted to hide two Asian leopard cats in a backpack. He was busted when his travelling companion was also caught. Authorities noticed a large birds of paradise flying out of his luggage. Further inspection revealed 50 rare orchid bulbs, birds stuffed into women’s stockings and two lesser slow lorises (pygmy monkeys) stuffed in his underwear! The poor animals were saved form an 18 hour journey from Asia in this man’s pants!

And most recently, a man has been charged with smuggling reptiles from South Asia in his prosthetic leg.

Some people bring in rare and exotic species as pets but others realize it is big business. Unfortunately, once an animal is taken from the wild, it cannot usually be returned to its place of origin, for fear of disease, and so is often placed in a local zoo, where its chances of long-term survival are reduced.