Canadian smuggler had 51 turtles in his pants when he tried to cross border

Kai Xu pleads guilty after being caught with turtles taped around his legs as part of alleged efforts to sneak more than 1,600 of them out of the US

A Canadian college student caught at a border checkpoint with 51 live turtles in his pants has pleaded guilty to six smuggling charges in the US.

Kai Xu, 27, of Windsor, Ontario, admitted to smuggling or trying to smuggle more than 1,600 turtles of different species out of the United States from April 2014 until his arrest in September 2014. Each of the six counts carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

In August 2014 Xu crossed the US-Canada border into Detroit and was watched by US agents as he picked up a package at a parcel center, then appeared to transfer items before heading back to the border, according to a criminal complaint.

When he passed back through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, Xu was stopped by Canadian Border Services, which found and seized 41 live turtles taped to his legs and 10 hidden between his legs, the district court in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was told.

The day of his arrest Xu packed more than 1,000 turtles into suitcases that he sent with a runner he had hired to fly them to Shanghai from Detroit, prosecutors said.

US District Judge John Corbett OMeara scheduled sentencing for next April in Ann Arbor. Xu has been held in federal custody since his arrest.

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