A New York City man was charged this week with smuggling three Burmese pythons in his pants at a U.S-Canadian border crossing.
Calvin Bautista, 36, is accused of bringing the hidden snakes on a bus that crossed into northern New York on July 15, 2018.
Importation of Burmese pythons is regulated by an international treaty and by federal regulations listing them as “injurious to human beings.”
Bautista, of Queens, was arraigned Tuesday in Albany on the federal smuggling charge and released pending trial, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Carla B. Freedman.
An email seeking comment was sent to Bautista’s lawyer.
The charge carries the potential for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000, according to federal prosecutors.
The Burmese python, one of the world’s largest snakes, is considered a vulnerable species in its native Asia and is invasive in Florida, where it threatens native animals.
In Florida, the snakes typically range from six to nine feet long, according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Last month, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said that biologists caught the heaviest Burmese python ever captured in Florida. The snake was nearly 18 feet long and weighed 215 pounds; it also had 122 unhatched eggs.
The Burmese python is an invasive species, and capturing its females is critical to disrupting their breeding cycle.
In fact, the state of Florida has a python removal program, which runs for two weeks in August and rewards participants with prizes.