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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on November 21, 2000 at 06:49:24:
THE STAR (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia) 21 November 00 Police seize 18,000 turtles
Hong Kong (AP): Police said Tuesday they seized about 18,000 soft-shell turtles allegedly being smuggled into mainland China, where they are the main ingredient in a popular medicinal soup.
Officers on marine patrol noticed a local fishing vessel and a mainland Chinese vessel that appeared suspicious, so they went aboard late Monday night and found the turtles packed into 900 boxes being loaded onto the mainland vessel, according to a police statement.
The turtles, worth 654,000 Hong Kong dollars (U.S. dlrs 84,000), were not endangered and had been legally flown from Thailand to Hong Kong, according to police spokeswoman Amy Tam.
Police arrested 12 men, but no charges were immediately filed.
Customs agents will keep the live turtles as evidence, said Bess Chow, a spokeswoman with the Customs and Excise Department.
Chow was not able to specify how the turtles would be maintained, but she said any that died would be placed in refrigeration.