King cobras coiled in potato chip cans lead authorities to tanks of illegal reptiles in California

A California man who accepted a package originally containing potato chip canisters with three live, tightly coiled king cobras inside was arrested Tuesday on federal smuggling charges.

In March, U.S. Customs agents intercepted a box from Hong Kong containing three king cobra snakes and three albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles. It was addressed to Rodrigo Franco, according to the Department of Justice.

Federal agents removed the cobras, but delivered the turtles to Franco's home in Monterey Park, Calif., AP reports.

He accepted the package, and authorities with a warrant later searched his property. They found tanks, AP reports, holding a live baby Morelet's crocodile, alligator snapping turtles, a common snapping turtle and five diamond back terrapins — all protected species.

Franco faces smuggling charges that could trap him in prison for up to 20 years. 

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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