ANN ARBOR (AP/WWJ) – A Canadian college student has pleaded guilty to smuggling or attempting to smuggle thousands of turtles from southeastern Michigan, more than a year after he was caught at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel with 51 snappers taped to his body.

Kai Xu ordered turtles online and would travel to the U.S. to ship them to China or return with them to Canada.

Xu pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Ann Arbor. He’s a 27-year-old student at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario.

In September 2014, Xu was caught at the border crossing with turtles taped to his body in plastic. It’s illegal to export wildlife from the U.S. without a license from the government.

Xu faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison although his sentence won’t be that high.

Officials said the attempted smuggling was connected to another in which a number of turtles were found stuffed into rubber snow boots and cereal boxes inside a Canadian man’s luggage at Detroit Metro Airport.

The Detroit Zoo took in the turtles.

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