Museum Curator Arrested For Allegedly Trying To Smuggle Scorpion, Spider Samples: REPORT

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Julianna Frieman Contributor
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A museum curator was reportedly arrested Monday for allegedly trying to smuggle scorpion and spider samples from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Police reportedly detained Lorenzo Prendini at Istanbul Airport while he was allegedly attempting to smuggle approximately 1,500 samples of the poisonous species across country borders, Anadolu Agency reported.

Prendini allegedly obtained the illegal samples from Türkiye, according to the outlet.

About 58 clip-on-bags containing hundreds of scorpions, tarantulas and other spiders native to Türkiye were allegedly seized from the suspect’s luggage, Anadolu Agency reported. He was also allegedly transporting 88 plastic tube bottles filled with unidentified liquids, according to the outlet.

Video of Istanbul police officers conducting a search of what was allegedly Prendini’s hand luggage has been published by the Demiroren News Agency, according to CBS News. Deceased spiders and scorpions were allegedly seen packed into plastic bags. (RELATED: Spider Nests On Woman’s Eardrum, Causing ‘Incessant’ Clicking And Rustling Sounds)

Prendini alleged in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that he had held a permit to carry out research jointly with Turkish experts.

“The police completely ignored this and relied on the testimony of an ‘expert’ who has a conflict of interest with my collaborators … and whose scientific research is highly questionable,” he reportedly alleged. “The police have completely violated due process and it appears they would like to find me guilty in the court of public opinion.”

Prendini faces charges of smuggling in Türkiye, Anadolu Agency reported. The accused museum curator specializes in spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes, according to the American Museum of Natural History’s website. “Dr. Prendini’s research addresses the systematics, biogeography and evolution of scorpions, using a combination of morphological, molecular and distributional data, and diverse analytical tools,” his profile reads.

Poisonous spiders and scorpions like those the suspect allegedly smuggled from Türkiye can be used to create valuable medicine, according to Anadolu Agnecy. One liter of medicine made from scorpion venom reportedly retails for roughly $10 million.