Two Russian nationals jailed 15 months for smuggling 206 endangered turtles

The luggage bags that were used to transport the turtles.
The luggage bags that were used to transport the turtles. PHOTO: AVA
The turtles in temporary containers after being removed from the luggage bags.
The turtles in temporary containers after being removed from the luggage bags.PHOTO: AVA
Diapers and towels were used as lining in the luggage bags to absorb turtle excrement.
Diapers and towels were used as lining in the luggage bags to absorb turtle excrement.PHOTO: AVA

SINGAPORE - Two Russian nationals were sentenced to 15 months' jail on Wednesday (Oct 14) for smuggling 206 turtles through Singapore.

Both men, Pavlychev Maksim, 38, and Radkov Aleksei, 34, were detained at Changi Airport on July 9 after security officers found their four bags stuffed with live turtles.

They were planning to deliver the turtles to Surabaya, Indonesia, via a transit in Singapore.

The bags, which had arrived on a flight from Dhaka, were lined with diapers and cloth to absorb the turtles' waste, according to a spokesman for the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority on Wednesday.

The black pond turtles, a critically endangered species banned from international trade, had arrived in Singapore dehydrated, the spokesman added. They are estimated to be worth $90,000 and is in high demand in the exotic pet trade.

So far, 27 of them died or had to be put down. The rest are being cared for by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, permits from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are required for any import, export and re-export of its protected species, including their parts and products.

It is also an offence if the CITES species or their parts and products do not have the necessary permits when they are in transit or being transhipped through Singapore.

Penalties for infringing the Act include fines of up to $50,000 per species, capped at $500,000, and/or up to two years' imprisonment.

Additionally, under the Animals and Birds Act, any person who neglects to supply the animals with food and/or water or subject them to unnecessary suffering and distress, is guilty of animal cruelty.

They shall be liable, on conviction, to a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to 12 months.