Malaysia seizes drugs, turtles from Indian nationals

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The red-ear sliders are one of the world’s most commonly traded turtles meant for the pet and meat markets. (AP)
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Malaysian customs officials display the seized red-eared slider turtles at the customs office on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2019

Malaysia seizes drugs, turtles from Indian nationals

  • Agents found a total 5,255 red-ear slider baby turtles kept in small baskets from the luggage of two Indian nationals
  • Separately, two Indian nationals were arrested for possession of 14.34 kilograms of methamphetamine

SEPANG, Malaysia: Malaysia authorities have arrested four Indians and seized more than 14 kilograms of drugs and over 5,000 turtles from their luggage at the Kuala Lumpur airport.
Senior customs official Zulkarnain Mohamed Yusof said Wednesday that agents found a total 5,255 red-ear slider baby turtles kept in small baskets from the luggage of two Indian nationals who flew in from Guangzhou, China on June 20.
He said the men had no permits for the turtles and told investigators that the terrapins, estimated to be worth $12,700, were meant to be sold as pets in India. The men are expected to be charged and could face up to five years in jail and a fine, he said.
The red-ear sliders are one of the world’s most commonly traded turtles meant for the pet and meat markets. Permits are required as young turtles are susceptible to carrying salmonella and pose health concerns.
Separately, Zulkarnain said officials also found a total of 14.34 kilograms of methamphetamine worth 717,000 ringgit ($174,000), hidden in special compartments in boxes that were hand-carried by two men. One of them flew in from Hyderabad, India on June 19 and another on June 20 from Bengaluru, he said in a statement.
The two men, believed to be drug mules, are expected to be charged and face the death penalty if convicted.


Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Updated 10 August 2020

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”