An employee of the SeaWorld theme park in San Diego was arrested this morning for running a smuggling ring specialized in a very unusual product: penguin genitals.
27-year old Thomas C. Frampton was arrested by the FBI as he arrived at work at the marine park this morning.
The veterinarian, specialized in aquatic birds, is accused of “illegally collecting and trafficking animal organs” and is suspected of exporting over 12,500 bird penises to China over the last 2 years.
According to investigators, he collected several of the organs himself from the animals under his care but also had contacts in others zoos and parks that were getting penises for him.
A search of his residence led to the discovery of 84 penguin genitals, as well as 57 coming from other aquatic birds like ducks, swans, and kingfishers.
In an interview with ABC, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the organs were kept in the accused’s home refrigerator.
“Federal agents found dozens of penises in little baggies and jars, in the same fridge that he kept his food. It’s no wonder he was still single.”
Investigators also seized two computers and several boxes of paper files, and they hope to find evidence to identify Mr. Frampton’s accomplices and customers.
Animal organ trafficking is an increasingly important preoccupation for American federal authorities, as some poachers and dishonest veterinarians make a lot of money by illegally supplying the Asian market for these traditional Chinese medicines.
The Humane Society of the United States says that a penguin penis can cost more than $6,000 in Asia, where some people use it to treat erectile dysfunction.
Some specimens which are rarer or more dangerous to collect can fetch even higher prices.
In 2014, a dehydrated white rhinoceros penis was sold for $485,000 during an auction in Hong Kong.
With such soaring prices, it isn’t surprising to see the increasing number of arrest related to this new criminal trend.