Locked Up Abroad: Snakes On A Plane


Tom Crutchfield, a salesman living in Fort Myers, Fla., called himself the “Mick Jagger of the reptile industry.” He successfully smuggled crocodiles, snakes, tarantulas and king cobras around the world.

But when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begins building the case against him, Tom escapes to Belize. There, authorities imprison him. His new cellmates sleep on the floor with no electricity or plumbing. When Belize officials deport him back to the U.S., federal marshals are waiting.

Appellants Tom and Penny Crutchfield are commercial importers and distributors of reptiles. Prior to their indictment in this action, the Crutchfields were the proprietors and managers of Herpetofauna, Inc., one of the largest dealers and importers of exotic reptiles in the United States.

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