Man who tried to smuggle King Cobras into the US in potato chip cans gets just 5 months in prison!

A king cobra's venom can kill a person with excruciating pain within 30 minutes if no antivenom is available. S-s-sshit!

Man who tried to smuggle King Cobras into the US in potato chip cans gets just 5 months in prison!

A man from California is looking at five months in federal prison for smuggling three extremely vicious and highly poisonous king cobras into the U.S. stuffed and coiled into potato chip cans, through the mail. He was sentenced on Monday, federal prosecutors say.

If you think pictures of snakes freak you out - think again, at least now before you open a can of chips. If a king cobra bites you, you've got 30 minutes to live before you fade into oblivion unless there is an antivenom available close by in which case, you may just get lucky.

King Cobras are venomous snakes who can kill you within 30 minutes with just a bite. (Source: Getty)

When confronted, king cobras can raise up to one-third of their bodies off the ground, flare out their hoods and emit a “bone-chilling” hiss before attacking.

Rodrigo Franco, 34, was found guilty of wildlife smuggling in September. In addition to the sentence he needs to serve, U.S. District Judge George H. Wu ordered Franco to pay a $4,500 fine and serve two years of supervised release after being released from prison. 

In a plea agreement, Franco admitted to smuggling, in two prior shipments, another 20 king cobras into Los Angeles - all of whom died in transit. He also acknowledged mailing protected turtles from the United States into Hong Kong, but that package was intercepted by federal agents.

Three cobras were discovered stuffed into potato chip cans. (Source: Twitter)

“Reptiles are my passion,” Franco, an ex-auto mechanic, wrote to Judge George H. Wu, who sentenced Franco in Los Angeles federal court.

The three king cobras were discovered in March when customs and border protection officers inspected a package that was mailed from Hong Kong, prosecutors say. Along with the snakes in the package were three albino Chinese soft-shelled turtles. 

Albino Chinese soft-shelled turtle


On the same date, Franco also mailed six protected turtles — desert box turtles, three-toed box turtles and ornate box turtles — from the United States to Hong Kong, but that shipment also was intercepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Federal agents removed the cobras because of the danger they can pose and therefore were seized from the package. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, however, made a controlled delivery of the turtles to Franco's home. Immediately after the package was received by Franco himself, his house was searched by federal agents who executed a search warrant.  


During the search which led to the arrest of Franco in July, they discovered the package that originated from Hong Kong left in a children's room, in which they also discovered a tank housing a live baby crocodile. There were also tanks containing alligator snapping turtles, a common snapping turtle, and five diamondback terrapins - all of which were protected species, according to investigators. 

Cobras and other reptiles are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement that was designed to protect threatened species from illicit trading. King cobras sell for $2,000 each on the black market. 


 For months, according to federal court records, Franco used WhatsApp to negotiate shipments of animals to and from Hong Kong. 

In a sentencing memorandum that was filed earlier this month, prosecutors noted that king cobras are at risk of extinction and that during the time of shipment of the snakes to Los Angeles, there was no known king cobra antivenom around, the U.S attorney office states.

Rodrigo Franco has been taken into custody and will serve a period of five months in federal prison. 

If you have any views or stories that you would like to share with us, drop us an email at