In an extraordinary case of life imitating Snakes On a Plane, a man tried to smuggle a ball python onto a flight from Miami to Barbados on Sunday. The stowaway snake was concealed inside an external hard drive enclosure, which was itself placed within a checked bag.
The bag was flagged by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff at Miami International Airport as it went through the luggage screening process. The python was then liberated and taken into custody by US Fish and Wildlife Services. The would-be snake smuggler was barred from the flight, and will be fined, according to TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz. Checking luggage containing banned items can result in fines as high as $10,000, as well as criminal referrals.
"The snake […] didn’t get on a plane thanks to our officers' diligent screening," Koshetz told the Miami Herald. "While this mass inside the electronic device was obviously not an imminent terrorist threat to the traveling public, the interception did prevent a possible wildlife threat on an aircraft. Animals of many species have been known to escape and chew through wires with fatal results.”
This is not the first time a passenger has been busted for sneaking snakes on a plane—it’s not even the first time it has happened in Florida. In 2011, a man strapped snakes and turtles to his body at the same Miami airport, and in 2012, a woman was caught hiding a snake in her bra at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, according to the Herald.
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Occasionally, these serpent smugglers successfully pass security. A passenger on a 2012 Egypt Air flight from Cairo to Kuwait brought a contraband cobra onto the plane in his carry-on bag. The cobra broke free after takeoff, attacked its owner, and began slithering under the seats, prompting an emergency landing.
Then there’s this horrifying video recorded on a 2016 AeroMexico flight from Torreon to Mexico City, which stars a snake that has escaped from an overhead luggage compartment.
Fortunately, in the case of the hard-drive python, neither the passenger nor the snake were permitted onboard. "It shows you can't hide any threat from us," Koshetz noted. In other words, to channel Lil Rel Howery’s character in Get Out—we’re “TS motherfuckin' A. We handle shit.”
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