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Man Admits Mailing Hundreds of Tarantulas

Man Admits Mailing Hundreds of Tarantulas - A German national who shipped hundreds of live tarantulas into the United States through the mail pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a federal smuggling charge, prosecutors said.

In pleading guilty, 37-year-old Sven Koppler admitted mailing some 247 live tarantulas to federal agents in Los Angeles, who were posing as buyers as part of an investigation dubbed "Operation Spiderman."

Koppler further admitted sending the agents 22 Mexican red-kneed tarantulas, a species of spider formally known as Brachypelma smithi that is protected under an international treaty.

Man Admits Mailing Hundreds of Tarantulas

Koppler, who lives in Wachtberg, Germany, faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on April 11, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

Authorities say the investigation into Koppler began in March, when a routine inspection turned up about 300 live tarantulas in a package he mailed to Los Angeles.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents ordered more spiders from Koppler and were sent a total of five packages containing dozens of live and dead tarantulas.

He was arrested on December 2 after arriving in Los Angeles to meet with an associate.

Koppler received about $300,000 as a result of tarantula sales to spider fanciers in dozens of countries, including nine in the United States, according to court documents.

Man Admits Mailing Hundreds of Tarantulas

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