German Tarantula Smuggler Falls Into Uncle Sam's Web Over Arachnid Mailings

A German man has been arrested on animal smuggling charges after he allegedly mailed hundreds of live tarantulas to customers in the United States. Sven Koppler, 37, was busted yesterday when he arrived in Los Angeles to meet with an associate, according to investigators.

In announcing Koppler’s arrest, federal officials today released the above evidence photos (click to enlarge) showing some of the seized arachnids. A third photo (click here to view) shows dozens of baby tarantulas, each of which is enclosed in a color-coded straw corresponding to a specific tarantula species.

The federal probe of Koppler began in March, when agents intercepted a package headed for L.A. that contained about 300 tarantulas. Investigators subsequently seized a second United States Postal Service shipment containing nearly 250 live tarantulas. During an undercover probe (dubbed “Operation Spiderman”) run by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents, Koppler allegedly mailed several other packages containing tarantulas.

Charged with one count of illegally importing wildlife, Koppler received about $300,000 via tarantula sales to buyers in dozens of countries. These purchasers include “approximately nine people in the United States,” according to prosecutors.

Comments (7)

The big deal is "Its against the law" How many laws should we ignore? Americans are being scanned and strip searched at airports, our phones and internet are being monitored, new scanners hidden in trucks are being deployed in cities across the nation to peek into your cars, homes and businesses, our credit card usage is being monitored and on it goes. Meanwhile we wont enforce immigration laws. We dont enforce drug laws then were upset with all the drug smuggling coming across our southern border along with the violence that goes with it. Its time we start enforcing laws and start making examples of some hopefully to deter others.
Communist incorporated, wasting tax dollars, arresting people for being entrepreneurs. Abolish D.C. Abolish all Federal agencies. Leaches on society must be burned.
On an even more disappointing note, I recently received a bid on some spiders. I got full approval from all the involved governments, but there wasn't a single parcel carrier in America that would ship a live spider. The reason? Because what if the spiders somehow managed to find their way out of the parcel that was constructed such that escape was impossible and bite the parcel carrier? As far as arthropods go, only nonbiting insects are allowed-- never spiders-- regardless of whether the bite is even harmful. Sale cancelled. Thank you, OSHA... Entrepreuners...start a business that carries live arachnids in parcels, and you'll have a customer base...just be sure the customer clears it with the governments first.
No, it's not time to blindly enforce all laws. That would make America like Nazi Germany minus the killings. There's too many horrible laws already. Thank goodness, they don't enforce the internet pharmacy laws, those pharmacies HELP people, whatever side of the law they're on. They don't need to enforce the marijuana law, what a complete waste of time, and a total destruction of harmless people's lives that would create. But I do agree with the fact we should enforce all laws against all predators (and that includes animal abusers such as this tarantula mailer). We can look the other way on other things, though, as we should. In Europe, laws are not passed to be enforced without discretion. That should be the same here, too. Spirit-of-law is far more intelligent than letter-of-law, even if it creates confusion.
Considering that tarantulas are relatively finicky, it is highly doubtful that any of these species could survive outside of their native habitat, let alone find another of their kind in order to breed. They are highly unlikely to become invasive or pose any sort of threat to anybody. The only reason this should be an issue is if they are rare species that are at risk for extinction from being over-harvested for the pet trade.
What is the big deal. These are not baby parrots. They are ugly spiders.
The big deal is they are nasty little spiders instead of cute little parrots. Do we really want more spiders in the US? I think not. Hooray for cute little parrots in the US mail.