Customs at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cengkareng, Banten, have thwarted the smuggling of thousands of protected baby turtles from Bekasi in West Java to Guangzhou, China.
The turtles, consisting of 3,737 pig-nosed turtles and 883 snake-neck turtles, were put in boxes and then placed in the same container with boxes of clown fish as camouflage, Soekarno-Hatta's customs law enforcement division head Yulianto said on Monday as quoted by wartakotalive.com.
"We uncovered the smuggling at an export storehouse at the airport last Saturday," he said, adding the authorities also apprehended five suspects. He did not disclose the citizenship of the five people.
He said that at first customs officers were not suspicious of the contents of the container in question, but they started to check them when the suspects could not show a plants and animals shipping letter.
Meanwhile, Soekarno-Hatta customs head Dwijo Muryono said the turtles were listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning the animals are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so if they are traded uncontrollably.
Jakarta's Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) head Awen Supranata said all the turtles were worth a total of Rp 1.1 billion (US$82,500 or S$115,600), adding that the numbers of both types of turtles were decreasing nowadays.
"Both types of turtles live in particular waters. Such types are currently being bred in Papua because there are under threat. Therefore, those found smuggling these types of turtles will face criminal charges," he said without elaboration.