A man's half-assed attempt to smuggle tortoises through customs by putting them in a bakery box and passing them off as pastries was thwarted after customs officials immediately spotted that they were an endangered species and not food.
The 69-year-old German man took a plane from Cairo to Schönefeld airport, Germany, carrying a pack of pastries from Etoile Patisserie. He attempted to leave the airport via the nothing to declare queue, where he was stopped by customs officials who were suspicious of his package.
The officials questioned him on his pastry box for good reason: They looked nothing like pastries whatsoever. I'd go as far as to say they look exactly like tortoises that have been haphazardly placed into a pastry box.
Upon questioning, the man informed the customs officials that they were "chocolates". This happened in Germany, the land of chocolate, so that wasn't going to wash. Especially since chocolates aren't known for their tortoiseshell aesthetic and tendency to wriggle around upon inspection.
Upon looking at the "chocolates" the man's story fell apart pretty quickly, given the fact that THEY LOOK EXACTLY LIKE LIVE TORTOISES, FRIEDRICH. The chocolates turned out to be Moroccan tortoises, an endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, according to a press release from Potsdam's Customs Office.
The man, who didn't even take the trouble to dust the three tortoises with sugar, now faces prosecution. Infringement of these species protection regulations in Germany can be punished with fines of up to €50,000 ($57,000) or up to five years in jail.
The tortoises were alive and well and certainly not pastries. They were confiscated from the man and handed over to a border veterinarian to be looked after.
Though weird, this is by no means the strangest attempt at smuggling we've seen. That award probably goes to a team of three people last year who attempted to sneak a live shark out of an aquarium by pretending that it was a baby.