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Man caught with 261 tarantulas at Swiss airport

GENEVA — Swiss customs officials say they intercepted a man at Zurich airport carrying hundreds of endangered spiders in his luggage.

Customs officials found 261 Mexican red-kneed tarantulas packed into individual plastic bags inside six boxes belonging to a Swiss man arriving from the Dominican Republic in August.

Officials said Wednesday that the shipment was destined for an unidentified Swiss dealer.

A search of the dealer's home uncovered 665 further tarantulas and 72 giant flesh-eating centipedes that had also been smuggled into Switzerland. Together they could have sold for up to 15,000 Swiss francs ($16,700).

Experts say animals are the third-most trafficked item in Switzerland after weapons and drugs.

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