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.
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.