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Man To Go Free In LA After Smuggling Turtles From Japan

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Japanese man who pleaded guilty to smuggling live turtles and tortoises from his country into the United States will be released from federal custody after being sentenced to time served.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said Norihide Ushirozako will be freed late Tuesday or Wednesday.

He and another man had been held without bond since being arrested seven months ago at Los Angeles International Airport, hiding the animals in snack food boxes.

Co-defendant Atsushi Yamagami pleaded guilty to one felony count of smuggling on Monday; he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison at his Oct. 31 sentencing.

The turtles and tortoises are protected by an international endangered species agreement and can only be imported with a permit.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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