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Man Arrived At LAX With Dried Insects, Endangered Butterflies, In Luggage

Latest LAX News.
Latest LAX News.

A man who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport with more than 1,000 dried insects in his luggage — including 150 endangered butterflies — is expected to plead guilty today to a federal charge.

Alexander Bic, 26, will plead to a charge of violating the U.S. Endangered Species Act in connection with the attempt to import Ornithoptera — or birdwing — butterflies into the United States. The charge carries a possible federal prison sentence of up to 20 years, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana M. Kwok.

Immediately following the plea, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez is expected to hand down a probationary sentence of one year, including 250 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine, court documents show.

The vividly colored specimens were found by customs officers April 7, 2015, at LAX, as Bic — an Irvine native — and his wife were returning from a trip to Japan, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court. Bic’s wife was not charged.

The dried and folded 5-inch butterflies from New Guinea were found among eight boxes of dead insects discovered in Bic’s carry-on and checked baggage, the document states.

Bic operates an Internet mail-order business in which he sells pinned and framed insect specimens to customers throughout the world.

The endangered birdwing species sells for upward of $100, the prosecutor said.

“There are certainly enough collectors (of dried insects) to support an eBay business,” Kwok told City News Service.

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