Japanese national charged in turtle smuggling case

HONOLULU (AP) - A Japanese national charged with trying to smuggle 42 exotic turtles into the U.S. is in federal custody in Hawaii.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser quotes Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Brady as saying Hiroki Uetsuki was arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Brady says Uetsuki is accused of trying to get the turtles through customs in a suitcase after arriving at Honolulu International Airport on Monday on a flight from Japan.

Officials say there were three species: the Indian star tortoise, the white-fronted box turtle and the fly river turtle.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resident agent in charge, George Phocas, says the turtles posed a threat to native Hawaiian species, including freshwater shrimp and fish.

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