Smuggling snakes in socks over border

An Ontario man admits to smuggling snakes in his socks across the Canada-U.S. border.

An Ontario man who was caught trying to smuggle snakes into Canada in his socks has pleaded guilty in an American court.

Chaoyi Le, 28, is facing up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to violating wildlife regulations, according to prosecutors in Buffalo, N.Y.

Le’s lawyer, Victor Sherman, said he’s requesting a more lenient sentence of time served.

Le, described in court documents as a resident of Mississauga, Ont., was arrested in April 2014 at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge in western New York.

According to the complaint filed against him, Le was discovered with three western hog-nosed snakes concealed in his socks.

Le initially told customs agents he found the snakes in a New York park, but later admitted to purchasing them for about $500, the complaint said.

He had also mailed a package of snakes to China from the U.S. on the same day, court documents said.

The arrest marked the end of Le’s brief but active time sending live reptiles via mail, the documents said. The complaint said he began doing so in 2013, making several crossings from Ontario to the U.S.

The complaint said Le became a regular customer at a UPS store somewhere in the Buffalo area, where he would travel to send and receive packages.

Le came to the attention of customs officials once before the April 2014 incident, it said.

While en route to China from Toronto in February 2014, Le was stopped at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and was found to be travelling with an assortment of 55 reptiles, including pythons and turtles.

Le was charged in Canadian court with various wildlife violations, according to court documents.

After an initial court appearance, Le flew to China in the summer of 2014 — after his April arrest — and informed customs officials he would be there for the next year or two and would not be attending scheduled Canadian court dates, documents said.

The charges in Canada were ultimately withdrawn in July 2015, according to the American complaint.

Le was then arrested by U.S. authorities this past August when he flew to Los Angeles from Shanghai.

Sherman said Le is set to be sentenced on Oct. 30.

Just Posted

Penticton rally set for Indigenous homicide victims

Rally in support of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine set for Monday at noon at the courthouse

Gold for Apex Freestyle Club skier at B.C. Games

Kelowna’s Jordan MacDonald wins gold in Kamloops at the B.C. Winter Games

Fundraiser for Penticton boy battling cancer

Wills, 7, had surgery to remove tumours in his kidney, but further tumours have been found

Neighbours ‘save the day’ when Jeep starts on fire

Damage could have been much worse if neighbours hadn’t pitched into help with Jeep fire in Keremeos

Snow impacting flights at Kelowna airport

Tough conditions have delayed several flights and cancelled others at the regional airport

What’s happening

Check out what is happening this weekend in the Okanagan-Shuswap.

Canucks fold 5-3 in first ever trip to Vegas

Daniel Sedin had two points as Canucks fall to the Golden Knights Friday night

That’s a wrap: B.C. Games results after Day 1

Vancouver-Coastal Zone 5 is in the lead for medals Friday at the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games

Familiar faces head up library board

The executive of the Okanagan Regional Library board remains the same

Sticking the landing at the B.C. Games

Gymnasts talk competition, B.C. Winter Games, and teamwork in Kamloops

Therapy dogs make appearance at B.C. Games

The St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog program launches a pilot project at the 2018 Kamloops B.C. Winter Games

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

$153M in federal cash to fund child care, education training in B.C.

Bilateral agreement will create 1,370 new infant and toddler spaces

Most Read