Two airline passengers were caught with exotic breeds of snakes and lizards at an airport in Chennai, a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, on Thursday.

According to a press statement issued by the customs department commissioner, the suspects were detained following a tip-off for smuggling various breeds of exotic snakes and lizards. The passengers were flying in from Kuala Lumpur. However, the airline was not named in the report.

The suspects were later identified as 36-year-old Mohammed Parvaez and 28-year-old Mohammed Akbar. The customs officers reported that the passengers were moving about suspiciously after their arrival and attempted to rush out of the airport with their luggage before the officials intercepted them at the exit and asked them to open the luggage.

Upon investigation, the officials found exotic species of reptiles hidden in cloth bags tied with ropes. The customs department issued a statement on the confrontation: “On questioning, the arrested persons informed that these bags were given to them by someone outside Kuala Lumpur airport with instructions to hand them over to someone outside the Chennai airport who would identify them.”

The reptiles being smuggled included green tree python, scrub python, black tree monitor lizard, emerald tree monitor lizard, blue-spotted tree monitor lizard, Reisinger tree monitor, and Philippine sailfin lizard. These reptiles are a part of an international treaty, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), which is aimed at preventing endangering or extinction of species due to international trade.

A veterinarian doctor confirmed the reptiles were all in good health. The customs officials have decided to deport the creatures back to the country of origin as there was no paperwork for the reptiles to be imported into the country. The press release stated that the reptiles were to be sent back to Kuala Lumpur.

snake-771541_640 Python Photo: Pixabay