QUITO – A 26-year-old Japanese man was sentenced to two years in prison in Ecuador for attempting to smuggle a massive haul of insects and arachnids out of the country, officials said Thursday.
The defendant was arrested at Quito airport in March with 248 spiders, cockroaches, wasps, bees and butterflies in his suitcases, the environment ministry said in a statement.
Identified only as Hirokazu S., the smuggler was also fined $4,000 and ordered to make a public apology in a national newspaper, the ministry said.
Ecuador, a relatively small corner of South America that is home to around 17 million, is one of the most biodiverse nations on the planet.
Authorities have banned the capture and sale of all wild animals, but illegal trade persists throughout the Amazon region.
The defendant intended to bring the creatures, five of which are indigenous to Ecuador and some of which were still alive, to Hokkaido.
The man said at the trial that since he had obtained permission to take some butterflies with him, he thought there would be no problem taking other insects.
The man’s lawyer said they plan to appeal to a higher court, telling reporters that prosecutors have not proven the actual value of the insects.