NY Man Allegedly Smuggled Three Burmese Pythons in His Pants on a Bus, Prosecutors Claim

He is facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A New York man has been arrested for reportedly smuggling dangerous pythons into the US from Canada—using his pants. Calvin Bautista, 36, of Richmond Hill, Queens, allegedly hid three snakes in his trousers while crossing the Canada-US border by bus on July 15, 2018. Burmese pythons are considered an invasive species in the US, and Bautista is facing federal charges for the crime. Here is what happened, and why he was smuggling the snakes into the US.

Smuggling Snakes

close up of hands holding bars in prison

Bautista's case is being investigated by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and US Customs and Border Protection. He is facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Burmese pythons are considered a vulnerable species in Asia and considered invasive in Florida, where they are disrupting the ecosystem.

Giant Snakes


Burmese pythons are considered "injurious to human beings" by the Secretary of the Interior, thanks to their gigantic size—they can grow to 16 feet in length and are illegal without a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. According to the indictment, Burmese pythons are "not presently threatened with extinction but may become so if their trade was not regulated."

No Permit


Investigators say Bautista allegedly had no paperwork or permits allowing him to bring the pythons from Canada into the US, nor did he have permission from authorities to do so. Bautista is now awaiting trial for the incident. "The charges in the indictment are merely accusations," says the Department of Justice. "The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."


Judge with a gavel

"Bautista was arraigned today in Albany, before United States Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel, and released pending a trial before Senior United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn," says the Department of Justice. This case is being investigated by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and US Customs and Border Protection, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander P. Wentworth-Ping."

Pythons In Florida


Pythons are even eating alligators in Florida, experts say. "The proliferation of pythons is an emergency situation for our native wildlife in South Florida," says Michael Kirkland, senior invasive animal biologist for the South Florida Water Management District and the manager of Florida's Python Elimination Program. "Human detection right now is the most effective tool in our toolbox. When it comes to pythons, we need all the help and awareness we can get."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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