Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Customs agents foil suspected reptile smuggler at LAX

In an apparently cold-blooded attempt at smuggling, a Lomita man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport this week with more than a dozen wriggling lizards strapped to his chest.

Michael Plank, 40, was detained by U.S. Customs agents after they discovered 15 live lizards stuffed into his money belt, officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said Friday.

Plank was returning from Australia on Tuesday when agents found two geckos, 11 skinks and two monitor lizards in his possession. Australian reptiles are strictly regulated, and Plank didn’t have a required export permit, officials said.

The lizards are valued at $8,500.

Smuggling wildlife into the U.S. is a felony punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison. Plank has been released on a $10,000 bond and will be arraigned Dec. 21 in a Los Angeles federal court, authorities said.

-- Catherine Saillant
Comments () | Archives (16)

what. an. idiot.

What happens to the lizards?

they give you more time for smuggling lizards then they gave these repeat
child molesters that's sad.

These is no such thing as U.S. Customs, not since 2003. Nice work, what else did you get wrong in the story?

Is that a gecko in your pants or are you glad to see me?

Not the exactly the Lizard King.

If these lizards are valued at $8,500 then this not so smart guy knew excactly what he was doing. As far as him facing 20 years goes to show everyone what kind of idiots write these laws into effects. I know gangsters that kill people here in LA and get away with it by mere intimidation of witnesses. Is it just me, or is there something wrong with the way some laws and regulations are carried out?
Let me guess, Governor Swartzenegger is the genius who came up with such punishment for smuggling a Gecko!

ha ha ha!! "A cold-blooded attempt at smuggling"!! Latimes is funny today!!! Good job!!!

15 lizards strapped to his chest...I guess the guy isn't ticklish.

Let's hope they "throw the book" at him. He deserves 20 years with no parole!!!
Not only is his action cruel, it is exploitation of the helpless.

Give him fifteen minutes, and he'll save YOU fifteen percent or more on car insurance!

It is schmucks like this who are helping to devastate wildlife. I'd have no qualms seeing this POS do 20 years, but he'll probably only be fined. That said, I have a "Henry Aaron 44" that I'd love to introduce to his cranium some night in a dark alley.

One wonders if he greased the lizards.

PhyllisT, I laughed out loud at your comment. Ha!

Im wondering why these lizard didn't freak out with his heart rate and all the different types of lizard straped to him. Eve nthe own kind is pushing it.

They should lock this bozo up for the rest of eternity. Reptiles are the best animals on the face of the earth!!! What a loser.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: