Snake smuggler pleads guilty

Oct 3, 2017

A man caught trying to sneak snakes in his socks across the Western New York border into Canada has pleaded guilty.

Federal prosecutors in Buffalo say 28-year-old Chaoyi Le faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to violating wildlife regulations.

Chaoyi Le found to be smuggling albino western hognose and ball pythons (pictured).

He was arrested in 2014 at the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge after Canadian border agents discovered three live albino western hognose snakes - valued at about $500 - hidden in his socks. At first, Le said he had found them in a New York park, but eventually admitted buying them.

Authorities say Le, a Chinese citizen who lives in Mississauga, Ontario, was trying to avoid a U.S. Fish and Wildlife inspection.

Court documents say that on the same day, Le also mailed seven ball pythons - valued at about $3,300 - from Amherst to Shanghai, China. Le submitted a form falsely declaring that the package contained “Belts, Candy and Chocolate” with a value of $80.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 30. Le faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.