The snakes were found by customs officials in a shipment marked "regular mail."
We've all seen the old snakes in a peanut can trick. And in today's modern chip-loving times, there's even a Pringles-esque version. But in a case of life imitating pranks, it was recently reported that three live cobras—contained in potato chip canisters—were shipped into the U.S. marked as regular mail.
Before we go any further, know this: the snakes stayed in their respective containers, and no one was injured when customs officials discovered the odd shipment.
According to The Washington Post, Rodrigo Franco, 34, was arrested Tuesday after customs officials in Los Angeles discovered he had packed and mailed the snakes in the cans. (The snakes came from Hong Kong.) Franco was charged with illegally importing merchandise.
When customs officials inspected the containers, they found three king cobras inside, each about two feet in length. They also discovered three albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles. Interestingly, the turtles were delivered to Franco, but the cobras, unsurprisingly, were not.
Later, in a search of Franco's Monterey park home, agents found a live Morelet's crocodile, alligator snapping turtles, a common snapping turtle, and five diamond back terrapins, the newspaper reports. And on Franco's phone, the agents found proof that Franco had talked to someone in Asia about shipping the reptiles between Hong Kong and the U.S. Franco was arrested shortly after the search, but it's unclear what happened to the reptiles afterward.
Apparently, Franco's March attempt to ship cobras wasn't his first foray into bringing the snakes into the U.S. He told an agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that previous attempts to mail 20 other king cobras were unsuccessful. The snakes died in transit.
If Franco is convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, according to The Washington Post.