Student caught with 51 turtles in his trousers admits smuggling

A Canadian student has pleaded guilty of smuggling after being caught crossing the US/Canadian border with 51 turtles and terrapins inside his trousers.

Ka Xu, 27, ordered turtles and terrapins online and have them sent to Michigan, USA. He would then collect them from Michigan and ship them to China, or put them down his trousers, strapped to his legs (and hopefully not his penis, though this hasn't been confirmed) with sellotape and cross back into Canada.

Xu plead guilty to six crimes in federal court in Ann Arbor and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.


The items presented as evidence included 51 turtles and terrapins, two pairs, one type of delicious cereal, and one box of Corn Flakes.

"What? It's all perfectly innocent. On a Sunday, there's nothing I like more than putting on several pairs of wellies, eating a nice big bowl of Corn Flakes and shoving 51 terrapins and turtles down my trousers. Don't you dare judge me."


Tiny turtles = big business

The turtle smuggling business is surprisingly lucrative. You just have to be willing to strap an endangered species to your legs and/or testicles and able to cross a border undetected (obviously, we don't recommend this).

According to Sara Woodward, assistant US attorney, Xu "regularly deals in turtle shipments worth $30,000, $80,000 or $125,000. In China, the turtles he smuggles are worth two to three times the amount he pays here."

The Ontario resident faces up to 10 years in prison for the offence, as it is illegal to export wildlife from the US without a permit from the government.

"Irregularly shaped bulges"

In summer 2014, weeks before his arrest, Xu was under surveillance in Detroit. After picking up a box at a US post office, he hid behind trucks and emerged with "irregularly shaped bulges" under his trousers, wildlife agent Ken Adams said. Rather than go to a doctor (who would have diagnosed his lumps as turtles) he then tried to cross the border and was arrested. If the bulges hadn't been spotted visually, of course, the arresting officer would surely have heard 50 tiny cries of "cowabunga" and/or requests for pizza from the adolescent turtles contained within (we can't stress this enough) Mr Xu's pants.

Xu has been in custody since his arrest in suburban Detroit in September 2014. He describes himself as an engineering student at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, although the university says he wasn't enrolled at the time of his arrest.

Despite the bust, "he did not cease smuggling turtles. He did not even slow down," said Assistant US Attorney Sara Woodward.

That's surprising. If we were discovered to have an endangered species in our pants, it would slow us down somewhat. But it would still be the most adorable thing that's ever been found in trousers.

Explanations he could have used:

"Are those 51 turtles in my trousers? No, I'm just pleased to see you, officer."

"These green things? These green things are my penis."

"I thought all trousers were like this, officer?"

"How did they get here? I thought turtles were meant to be slow. No time to arrest me - we need to see a marine biologist!"

"These green things? These green things are my nipples. Yes, I know they're moving. My nipples are mobile."

"Honestly, I don't want them to be there. I'm as mad as you are, officer - they just seem to be sexually attracted to smugglers."


Writer's note: Despite several emails to the attorney general's office, so far no-one has confirmed whether Mr Xu did indeed strap any turtles to his penis and/or testicles. But they haven't denied it either. Just saying.

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