Man arrested at Istanbul Airport with bag full of spiders and scorpions

Man arrested at Istanbul Airport with bag full of spiders and scorpions

Turkish police have arrested a man suspected of trying to smuggle hundreds of poisonous spiders and scorpions out of the country.

State media identifyed the suspect on Monday as a curator at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

Police arrested the suspect at Istanbul Airport on Sunday and seized dozens of bags from his luggage containing some 1,500 valuable scorpions and spiders, including tarantulas, as well as dozens of plastic bottles containing unspecified liquids, police said.

The state-owned Anadolu news agency reported the suspect was Lorenzo Prendini, a curator at the historic US museum, without specifying a source.

The American Museum of Natural History did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Prendini could not be reached.

The museum’s website lists Prendini as the curator of its spider, scorpion, centipede and millipede collections. It says his research into spiders and scorpions has taken him to more than 30 countries.

A traveller pets the dog Alita while two handlers walk airport therapy dogs Alita and Kuki through Istanbul Airport (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Police said the specimens seized were endemic to Turkey and that their DNA could be copied and their poisons milked for use in making medicines. The suspect faces charges under anti-smuggling law, it added without giving a name.

“It is understood that these medicines have very high financial values and therefore taking these animal species abroad is strictly forbidden,” it said.

It said research showed that the market value of one litre of medicine obtained from scorpion venom was worth $10 million.

Elsewhere in Istanbul Airport on Thursday a plane made a dramatic emergency landing after its front landing gear failed.

A video on social media showed the Boeing 767 belonging to FedEx Express using the back landing gear and then dipping its nose with the front portion of the fuselage.

The front landing gear did not deploy, but the pilot managed to stay on the runway, Turkey’s transport ministry said, adding that there were no casualties.

Video footage showed sparks flying and smoke billowing as the front end of the plane scraped along the runway before being doused with firefighting foam.

The Boeing 767 aircraft, flying from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, informed the traffic control tower at Istanbul Airport that its landing gear failed to open and it landed with guidance from the tower, the ministry said in its statement.