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Foreigner sentenced to two years in prison for stealing 248 insects from Napo nature preserve

A man arrested in March at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport with 248 insects in his luggage has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Some of the insects seized by police at the Quito airport from a Japanese citizen.

In handing down the sentence on the charge of theft of national genetic patrimony, Criminal Court Judge Paulina Sarzosa Guerra also fined the Japanese defendant, identified as Hirokazu S., 10 basic Ecuadorian salaries for the crime, or a little less than $4,000.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, Hirokazu S. was arrested as prepared to board a flight out of the country. The ministry said that police found spiders, scorpions, cockroaches, leaf insects, beetles, wasps, bees, moths and butterflies in the man’s luggage, including five endangered species.

The arrest resulted from a tip by a park ranger at the Antisana Ecological Reserve in Napo Province. According to the ranger, Hirokazu S. was seen putting specimens into bags and boxes as he hiked through the preserve.

According to the ministry, the judge rendered a light sentence due to the suspect’s ignorance of the law and the fact he did appear to have a financial motive. The court is authorized to hand out sentences of three to five years if the purpose of the theft is to sell specimens to a second or third party.

In a  court hearing,  Hirokazu S. said he intended to bring the insects, some of which were still alive, to the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan.