Snake Smuggler Caught Red-Handed

An individual from New York City was handed a sentence for his efforts in illegally bringing three Burmese pythons into the United States.

The federal smuggling allegation resulted in a fine of $5,000 and a probationary period of one year for Calvin Bautista, 38.

Officials said that upon his indictment in 2022, he could have faced a fine of up to $250,000, a supervised release period of up to three years, and a maximum prison sentence of twenty years.

Bautista of Queens, New York, revealed to authorities in July 2018 that he had smuggled the snakes aboard a bus that had crossed the United States-Canada border at the Champlain port of entry in Clinton County, New York. While searching his person and reviewing his passport, CBP officers discovered the baby snakes in a tiny bag fastened to his jeans, close to his inner thigh. Bautista did not secure the necessary paperwork and licenses to bring the snakes into the US. As its name implies, the Burmese python is an invasive creature with no place in North America.

Among the most giant snakes in the world, Burmese pythons are not indigenous to the United States.

Although they are a threatened species in their home region of Asia, many snakes proliferated in Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Everglades National Park in Florida and other places have become python habitats. Because they endanger native species because there aren’t many predators in the state, snakes are officially designated an invasive species.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission of Florida reports that Burmese pythons usually measure six to nine feet long, except for one specimen more than eighteen feet in height.

Local hunter, 22-year-old Jake Waleri, in South Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, grabbed a 19-foot Burmese python—the largest ever reported. The snake is the same length as an adult giraffe’s stature to give you an idea of scale.

Waleri spends his evenings hunting pythons because these giant predators are causing havoc on the native Florida animal populations.