American Museum of Natural History curator accused of smuggling 1,500 spider and scorpion specimens out of Turkey


A curator at the American Museum of Natural History was detained in Istanbul on Monday during an alleged smuggling attempt. Spider And the scorpion samples, Turkish media reported.

Lorenzo Prendini, an expert on arachnids at the New York-based museum, was detained by police at Istanbul Airport while allegedly trying to smuggle around 1,500 specimens out of the country.

State news agency Anadolu reported that Prendini was detained for allegedly trying to smuggle species found in Turkey. The agency reported that 88 bottles containing liquids and about 1,500 scorpions, tarantulas and spiders endemic to Turkey were seized from its cargo. The outlet said the species' DNA could be used to make medicine.

A liter of scorpion venom can cost around $10 million, a Turkish expert told Reuters.

A video published by the Demirorian news agency showed officers searching hand luggage and removing plastic bags that were filled with dead spiders and scorpions.

The museum's website lists Prendini as the curator of its spider, scorpion, centipede and millipede collections. He says his research on spiders and scorpions has taken him to more than 30 countries on every continent except Antarctica.

In 2022, an Oregon man was convicted in federal court of importing and exporting hundreds of live scorpions from Germany.

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