Man tried to take 27 snakes on plane at OIA


Mateus Dal Maso

ORLANDO, Fla. - Federal authorities said a man tried to smuggle more than two dozen live snakes out of the country, from Orlando International Airport. The man told investigators he bought the snakes at an expo in Daytona Beach.

The would-be smuggler was caught in ‘Operation Snake Pit’. Federal investigators were at OIA waiting for someone to try to export snakes illegally after the Daytona Beach expo.

If the suspect, Mateus Dal Maso, ever returns to the U.S., he’ll have to report to probation within 72 hours of his arrival. Federal investigators said on Wednesday, Dal Maso admitted trying to board a flight at OIA bound for Brazil, with more than two dozen snakes inside his checked bags.

The $10,000 worth of reptiles Dal Maso said he purchased at Daytona Beach’s National Reptile Breeder’s Expo never made it onto his Tam Airlines flight. The snakes were discovered by customs and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service after an unusual X-ray.

When authorities opened those checked bags, they spotted stereo equipment. Inside of that was 27 snakes, individually wrapped in nylon stockings, officials said.

According to his arrest report, Dal Maso knew not to bring the snakes on the plane. He told investigators he was warned at the breeder’s show that the reptiles should be shipped and needed a U.S. Fish & Wildlife import/export permit.

Dal Maso pleaded guilty to attempting to export illegal good from the U.S. He was ordered to pay a $6,000 fine. He told authorities he planned to bring the snakes back to Brazil to breed them as a business.