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During a more precise search, thirteen reptiles were found inside the suspect's suitcases, police said.
- Air Surveillance Service photo -

U.S. citizen arrested suspected of participating in wild animals trade

Published Wednesday, April 28, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

On Tuesday, Air Surveillance Service police officers of the Daniel Oduber International Airport, in Guanacaste Province, detained a U.S. citizen, surnamed Scott, as a suspect of wild animal trafficking.

According to the police report, during a routine check of the man's luggage, the officers detected suspicious content inside.

During a more precise search, thirteen reptiles were found inside the suspect's suitcases, police said.

In total, seven snakes and six lizards were found hidden in his luggage when he intended to leave the country, said Otto Arrieta, chief of the Airport Police.

Following the guideline in these cases, the officers coordinated the seizure of the animals with agents from the National Animal Health Service.

The U.S. expat was taken to the Liberia Canton Prosecutor's Office, on suspicion of trafficking wild animals.

Airport officers posted  a short video of the wild animals seizure on the  Ministry of Security Facebook page.

The trade or retaining wild animals in captivity is a crime in Costa Rica.

Wild flora and fauna are protected by Wildlife Conservation Law No. 7317. According to the law, those who are found guilty of keeping wild animals will be fined between $1,400 and $2,800. In the case of wild animals in danger of extinction or with small populations, these fines could be higher.

Under the law, any person who is found responsible for committing an environmental or wildlife crime could face a one year prison sentence.

Agents of the National Animal Health Service call on the population to report any suspicions of captivity or trade of wild animals to the 911 line.

What have you heard of expats keeping wild animals as pets?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

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