Tarantula Smuggler Arrested in "Operation Spiderman"

Hundreds of protected tarantulas sent through U.S. mail

By Mike Anderson
|  Saturday, Dec 4, 2010  |  Updated 7:45 AM PDT
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Tarantula Smuggler Arrested in "Operation Spiderman"

A man was arrested for smuggling hundreds of tarantulas into the U.S.

Forget snail mail, it's all about spider mail.

A German national was arrested Friday on federal animal smuggling charges after illegally mailing hundreds of tarantulas into the U.S.

Sven Koppler, 37, was nabbed after he arrived in Los Angeles Friday, according to a release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

He wasn't dealing in your basic garden variety tarantulas. Some of them were protected under international law, which means Koppler faces up to 20 years in federal prison with a $250,000 fine.

The man earned an estimated $300,000 selling the creepy crawlers to people in dozens of different countries before "Operation Spiderman" took him down.

Koppler popped up on the radar back in March, when a routine search of one of his packages revealed 300 live tarantulas on their way to Los Angeles.

Agents also found a second package with nearly 250 live tarantulas wrapped up in colored plastic straws, 22 of which were protected Mexican red-kneed tarantulas.

Fish and Wildlife agents finally went undercover and ordered about 70 protected tarantulas from Koppler, who sent them from Germany right into the hands of the U.S. agents.

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