BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. — Live King Cobras and lizards shipped express from Hong Kong were intercepted at John F. Kennedy Airport by customs agents.
The five slithering juvenile cobras, which are poisonous, and three geckos were found in a Styrofoam package that was labelled as containing a "plastic tray,'' by U.S. Customs and Border Protection workers doing a mail inspection. The snakes and lizards were discovered during an X-ray of the mail package, officials said on Tuesday.
King Cobras are venomous, and can reach 18 feet in length, making them the longest of all poisonous snakes.
CBP officers, working in the airport's International Mail Facility, seized the package and turned it over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for further investigation, according to the statement.
“Our CBP officers perform numerous daily tasks to protect the United States from potential dangers. This seizure demonstrates our wide-ranging responsibility in protecting our borders and our partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," said Leon Hayward, acting director of CBP’s New York Field Operations in the statement.
Anthony Bucci, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in New York, declined to say where the package was headed.