‘Spider-Man’ Pleads Guilty to Tarantula Smuggling

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REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Insect keeper with a red kneed bird-eating tarantula during the ZSL London Zoo's annual inventory count in London January 4, 2011

Forget the musical, there’s a new ‘Spider-man’ in town.  But he doesn’t sing —  he smuggles.

Sven Koppler, 37, has been charged with smuggling for shipping 247 live tarantulas — live tarantulas! — to federal prosecutors posing as buyers.

“Operation Spiderman” started last March when a random inspection revealed about 300 tarantulas in a box Kopler mailed to a Los Angeles address. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents then ordered some spiders, eventually recieving about 5 boxes of the critters.

(Read more about Spider-Man, the musical)

All told, Kopler, a German national, reportedly made  about $300,000 in the spider trade, shipping arachnids to buyers in nine countries.

He now faces up to 20 years in prison and a potential fine of $250 000 for importing protected wildlife.

Talk about getting caught in your own web. (via Reuters)