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The Feds Say in This Story Spiderman is the Bad Guy

Spiderman, Spiderman, Does whatever a spider can.
Spins a web, any size, Catches thieves just like flies.
Look Out! Here comes the Spiderman.”

Theme song to Spiderman

Tarantula/doj photo

By Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

In this case,  the feds spun a web to capture a German man in a probe dubbed “Operation Spiderman.”

Late last week, special agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Postal Inspectors — like spiders waiting for the prey — arrested German resident Sven Koppler, 37, after he arrived in Los Angeles on charges of  smuggling hundreds of tarantulas into the U.S. using the U.S. Mail, the Justice Department said. Some of the spiders were protected by international law.

The investigation began in March when a routine search of an international package turned up about 300 live tarantulas that were being shipped to Los Angeles.

The Fish and Wildlife agents intercepted a second package that had about 250 live tarantulas wrapped in colored plastic straws, and another package with 22 Brachypelma red kneed tarantulas, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species treaty.

The Fish and Wildlife agents set up an undercover investigation and ordered additional tarantulas from Koppler. They received several of the tarantulas dead and alive, including the Brachypelmas.

Authorities estimated that Koppler earned about $300,000 peddling tarantulas to people around the world, including about nine individuals in the U.S.

A spokeswoman from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services said that the issue when shipping animals is whether or not the animals are permitted and if the person has an import/ export license.

“There are a lot of illegal shipments,” said the spokeswoman.

Koppler could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

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