Smuggling snakes in socks over border

An Ontario man admits to smuggling snakes in his socks across the Canada-U.S. border.

An Ontario man who was caught trying to smuggle snakes into Canada in his socks has pleaded guilty in an American court.

Chaoyi Le, 28, is facing up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to violating wildlife regulations, according to prosecutors in Buffalo, N.Y.

Le’s lawyer, Victor Sherman, said he’s requesting a more lenient sentence of time served.

Le, described in court documents as a resident of Mississauga, Ont., was arrested in April 2014 at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge in western New York.

According to the complaint filed against him, Le was discovered with three western hog-nosed snakes concealed in his socks.

Le initially told customs agents he found the snakes in a New York park, but later admitted to purchasing them for about $500, the complaint said.

He had also mailed a package of snakes to China from the U.S. on the same day, court documents said.

The arrest marked the end of Le’s brief but active time sending live reptiles via mail, the documents said. The complaint said he began doing so in 2013, making several crossings from Ontario to the U.S.

The complaint said Le became a regular customer at a UPS store somewhere in the Buffalo area, where he would travel to send and receive packages.

Le came to the attention of customs officials once before the April 2014 incident, it said.

While en route to China from Toronto in February 2014, Le was stopped at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and was found to be travelling with an assortment of 55 reptiles, including pythons and turtles.

Le was charged in Canadian court with various wildlife violations, according to court documents.

After an initial court appearance, Le flew to China in the summer of 2014 — after his April arrest — and informed customs officials he would be there for the next year or two and would not be attending scheduled Canadian court dates, documents said.

The charges in Canada were ultimately withdrawn in July 2015, according to the American complaint.

Le was then arrested by U.S. authorities this past August when he flew to Los Angeles from Shanghai.

Sherman said Le is set to be sentenced on Oct. 30.

Just Posted

Central Coast Regional District swears in new Board of Directors

There are three new faces representing our region and two returning directors

VIDEO: Black horse signals ‘sign of peace’ for Tsilhqot’in Nation

Justin Trudeau rides black horse provided by Cooper family

Trudeau exonerates hanged war chiefs of 1864 on B.C. Tsilhqot’in title lands

Prime minister rides horseback with Chief Joe Alphonse, TNG Chairman, to Xeni Gwet’in meeting place

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Rain, snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

B.C.’s Interior set to get hit with snow while the Lower Mainland is expected to see more rain

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Most Read