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Curator at American Museum of Natural History Arrested in Turkey for Allegedly Smuggling Spiders and Scorpions (VIDEO)

Science or resource plunder? The frontier is sometimes not entirely clear.

Police in Turkey reportedly arrested a man suspected of trying to smuggle valuable poisonous spiders and scorpions out of the country.

Turkish state media identifying the suspect on Monday as a curator at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

Reuters reported:

“Police arrested the suspect at Istanbul Airport on Sunday and seized dozens of bags from his luggage containing some 1,500 scorpions and spiders, including tarantulas, as well as dozens of plastic bottles containing unspecified liquids, police said.

The state-owned Anadolu news agency reported the suspect was Lorenzo Prendini, a curator at the historic U.S. museum, without specifying a source.”

The American Museum of Natural History did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

“Police said the specimens seized were endemic to Turkey and that their DNA could be copied and their poisons milked for use in making medicines. The suspect faces charges under anti-smuggling law, it added without giving a name.

‘It is understood that these medicines have very high financial values and therefore taking these animal species abroad is strictly forbidden’, [Turkish Police] said.”

Research quoted by Police showed that the market value of one litre of ‘medicine’ obtained from scorpion venom was supposedly worth $10 million.

CBS News reported:

“Video published by the Demiroren News Agency showed officers searching hand luggage and removing plastic bags that appeared to be packed with dead spiders and scorpions.

The museum’s website lists Prendini as the curator of its spider, scorpion, centipede and millipede collections. It says his research into spiders and scorpions has taken him to more than 30 countries on every continent except Antarctica.”

To the Associated Press report, Prendini said the police had ‘disregarded permits from the Turkish government to conduct his research in collaboration with Turkish scientists’.

“The police completely ignored this and relied on the testimony of an ‘expert’ who has a conflict of interest with my collaborators … and whose scientific research is highly questionable,” he said.

“The police have completely violated due process and it appears they would like to find me guilty in the court of public opinion.”

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