Two Germans were detained by Colombian authorities for attempting to smuggle hundreds of wild spiders and insects to Europe via Bogota’s airport, officials said on Thursday.

The European duo illegally seized 232 tarantula spiders, 67 cockroaches, nine spider eggs and a scorpion with seven of its young. The bugs were kept in 210 plastic containers hidden in their suitcase, according to Colombian newspaper El Espectador.

"We haven't had a shipment of tarantulas this size since 2018 [and] the largest we have had this year was shark fins," Bogota's environment secretary, Carolina Urrutia, said in a statement.

The would-be German traffickers, who are expected to be prosecuted, argued that they were shipping wild insects for academic purposes but authorities said they did not have the permits to do so, CNN noted.

"We remind the public that despite having supposed academic or research purposes, like these [German] citizens, any investigation must have explicit permission from the environmental authorities," Urrutia said.

The spiders, cockroaches and scorpion are being examined by professionals who will later decide whether to free or relocate them, officials said.

According to Reuters, Colombia is one of the world's 17 mega-diverse countries and boasts tens of thousands of different species. This has led the country to become a target for wildlife traffickers drawn by its biodiversity.

This incident is the second one in less than three months.

In September, officials confiscated an illegal shipment of almost 3,500 shark fins set for Hong Kong.


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