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Queens Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Snakes


ALBANY, NEW YORK – Calvin Bautista, age 37, of Richmond Hill, New York, pled guilty today to smuggling three Burmese pythons into the United States at the Champlain Port of Entry.

United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Ryan Noel, Regional Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, made the announcement.

Bautista admitted that on July 15, 2018, he smuggled the three snakes in his pants as he rode on a bus that crossed the U.S.-Canadian border at the Champlain Port of Entry. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers discovered the snakes while reviewing Bautista’s passport and conducting a border search. The young adult snakes were in bags attached to Bautista’s pants near his inner thigh.

Bautista did not obtain the permits required to import these snakes. As their name suggests, Burmese pythons are not native to North America and are an invasive species.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 26, 2023, before Senior United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn. Bautista faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and CBP investigated this case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander P. Wentworth-Ping is prosecuting this case.

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