Chinese woman facing charge of trying to smuggle turtles across Vermont lake to Canada

On May 6, 2021, an ornate box turtle was discovered at the Nachusa Grasslands in Illinois. On a different note, a woman identified as Wan Yee Ng was arrested on June 28, 2021, at Lake Wallace, Vermont, near the border with Quebec, Canada. The arrest was made after Border Patrol agents received a tip from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police about two individuals trying to smuggle goods into Canada.

Ng was found at an Airbnb in Canaan, preparing to kayak across Lake Wallace with a duffle bag. Agents searched the bag and found 29 live eastern box turtles, a protected species, individually wrapped in socks. Eastern box turtles are known to be highly valued on the Chinese black market, with each turtle fetching around $1,000.

Ng is charged with attempting to export these turtles from the U.S., in violation of the Endangered Species Act. A federal judge has ordered her detention. The federal public defender’s office, which is representing her, has declined to comment.

Border Patrol agents had earlier noticed a vehicle with Ontario plates in an area known for smuggling activities in Canaan, Vermont, and had linked Ng to this area. Lake Wallace has a history of human and narcotic smuggling, according to an affidavit. Ng had entered the U.S. in May on a visitor visa with an intended destination of Fort Lee, New Jersey, and was again spotted entering the U.S. in Buffalo in a vehicle with a Quebec plate in June. The Border Patrol agents then started to monitor her activities.

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