The movie "Snakes on a Plane" was almost a reality as a Brazilian man tried to sneak 27 snakes on a flight from Orlando International Airport. Fortunately he couldn't get past security with his hissing luggage.
Mateus Dal Maso was about to board a Tam Airlines flight while on his way to Sao Paolo on Wednesday with 27 serpents that he bought at a Daytona Beach reptile breeding expo when he was stopped by security. Dal Maso knew it would be illegal to bring the animals on board, so he tried to hide them, but security caught on.
Dal Maso had wrapped the snakes in nylon stockings and hid them in speaker cabinets in his luggage. Security X-Ray machines showed that there was more than just wiring inside the speakers.
The snakes are worth an estimated $10,000 and Dal Maso had plans of breeding them for commercial purposes once back in Brazil. They included a Ball Python, seven Boa Constrictors, and 19 various color morph corn snakes. None of the 27 snakes became plane passengers. They were taken to a care facility after being discovered.
The arrest was part of a multi-agency law enforcement operation called "Operation Snake Pit." The which involved the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Customs and Border Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Transportation Security Administration are all part of this group that work to prevent the illegal transportation of reptiles.
"Operation Snake Pit focused on inspecting international and domestic shipments of reptiles coming into and being shipped from the (expo)," said FWC Major Paul Ouellette, as quoted by the Orlando Sentinel. "It would have been difficult to intercept this shipment without all of the agencies working together the way we did."
Dal Maso tried to deny having snakes at first. Eventually he fessed up to trying to hide the snakes. He was found guilty of exporting illegal merchandise and he served two days in the Orange County Jail and received a $6,000 fine.
If Dal Maso ever tries to return to the United States, he must report to a probation officer within 72 hours to serve one year of supervised release.