If you were planning on smuggling a load of extremely dangerous cobras from Hong Kong to California, how would you do it? Would you keep them in the middle of kitchen rolls? Would you roll them up in a carpet? Would you slide them up your bot-bot?
No, you would keep them in Pringles cans. Or more specifically, Pringles knock-offs cans – don’t want to arouse too much suspicion. You would do this for sure, if you were 34-year-old Rodrigo Franco from California, wouldn’t you?
Back in March, US customs officials found a package en route from Hong Kong, containing three two-foot long king cobras stuffed inside some crisp tubs. In the same load, there were also three live albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles, presumably squeezed into a Dairylea Lunchables packet or something.
Of course, as a result of this, the police raided Franco’s apartment, and as could be expected, they discovered a small-time zoo of rare animals. Included in their find was a baby crocodile, some snapping turtles and five diamondback terrapins, this time all sealed in a glass tank in a child's bedroom. Presumably they were transported in a Pokemon lunchbox, a series of Kinder eggs and a multi-pack of Frijj milkshakes before being transferred to the tank.
He’d been running his reptile racket for quite a while it seemed, although entirely unprofessionally, seeing as most of the snakes had died during transit – I don’t blame them, I often feel like dying after I’ve eaten a whole can of Pringles.
Even so, this is big business supposedly: the live reptile trade is worth about $2 billion a year, somehow. It’s genuinely something I don’t understand – just go down the local garden centre and get a turtle there, surely? What’s a turtle? 20 quid? I’ll give you a fucking turtle right now if you want.
Either way, Franco went for it, and he lost, and now he faces up to 20 years in prison. Joke’s on them though, cos he’s still got a couple of rogues up his arse and he can use them to bite through the jail bars and make his escape. As I’ve always said: “Check the snake-man’s butthole for reptiles”, but they never listen, do they? They never listen.