Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Spider 'smuggler' arrested in Rio

A tarantula was said to be among the spiders seized

A British man has been arrested at Rio de Janeiro airport for attempting to smuggle at least 1,000 live spiders out of Brazil in his luggage.

The pet shop owner was arrested on Wednesday after security X-rays detected the spiders in two suitcases.

The export of Brazilian animals without authorisation is banned.

The unnamed man was charged and released on bail pending a court date. He could face up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of £1.4m ($2.3m).

The man is thought to have been intending to sell the spiders in his pet shop.

The police are seeking to seize his passport to keep him in the country. However, it is understood they regard a fine as a more likely punishment for this offence than imprisonment.

The seized spiders, which are said to include tarantulas, were taken to a museum in Rio's federal university by Brazil's environmental watchdog agency Ibama.

The authorities were checking the spiders to see if any were poisonous.

Brazil is known to be one of the biggest markets in the world for animal trafficking, with around 50,000 animals rescued by the authorities each year.

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