• France's news in English

'Tarantula trafficker' snared in huge bug bust

Joshua Melvin · 17 Apr 2014, 12:26

Published: 17 Apr 2014 12:26 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

An ex-hairdresser living on welfare was the target one of France’s biggest-ever bug seizures, after police found thousands of living and dead tarantulas and other exotic insects he was illegally selling to collectors, French daily Le Parisien reported.

A recent search of the unnamed man’s home in the northeastern town of Amnéville turned up 2,000-3,000 dead tarantulas that had been mounted in display boxes.

Agents also discovered two metres-cubed worth of individual display boxes that contained various species such as butterflies and beetles from exotics locals like New Guinea or Madagascar, French daily Le Parisien reported. Incredibly, those individual display boxes sell for €800-€1,000 a piece to bug enthusiasts.

The search uncovered and additional live 140 tarantulas, 10 or so scorpions and several baby tarantulas that were to be sold in Germany for €2,000 per spider. Most species of tarantulas are not dangerous to humans and in recent years have become popular in the exotic pet business. 

The suspect, who is famous in France for his passion for creepy crawlers, has long been under police surveillance. He’s been busted several times coming to France back from trips to Guyana, Brazil and Mexico with live insects in his baggage.

His numerous trips abroad also caught the attention of authorities because the ex-hairdresser was, at least on paper, only able to pay his bills with government welfare payments called RSA.

After monitoring the man’s activities, agents from the French government’s wildlife police at the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, moved in to arrest him on charges of violating national and international laws on protected species.

Police couldn’t provide a total value of the seized insects because the expert they have brought in to identify and value everything has completed his work yet.

This case echos that of another tarantula lover in France who was found dead in November 2013 surrounded by 50 some tarantulas in his home. Authorities later concluded he had not died as a result of a bite from his pet spiders.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

Millionaire Riviera hotel boss kidnapped in broad daylight
The city of Nice where the millionaire was bundled into a car infront of shocked onlookers. Photo: AFP

The millionaire head of a luxury hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes was kidnapped in Nice in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.

Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available