San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Germans Fined $50 For Insect Smuggling

A group of German university students and their professor, detained June 11 when trying to leave the country with hundreds of insects hidden in their luggage, were released the following day and allowed to return home.

Authorities detained the group at Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, west of San José; before determining whether any of the insects were endangered species, officials fined each of the five detainees $50, seized the dead insects and let the culprits fly out of the country.

Angel Solís, from the entomology department of the private National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) in Heredia, north of San Josè, reviewed the insects after the Germans were released and said it appears none of the insects are endangered in Costa Rica.

Airport Police Director Glen Pacheco said the group apparently collected bees, spiders, ants, scarab beetles and other exotic insects in different parts of the country and stashed them inside a clear box. The group didn’t have the proper permits from the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) to take the insects out of the country, according to Pacheco.

MINAE official Sandra Arrieta said the group was planning to study the species once they reached their university in Munich.


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