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Man Cops Huge Fine For Smuggling 4700 Leeches On A Plane

A traveller who tried to smuggle live leeches into Canada in his carry-on bag has been slapped with a AU$16,000 fine.

Ippolit Bodounov managed to get his haul through customs on his departure from Russia, and through the eight-hour flight into Toronto's Pearson International Airport last October, without raising any suspicion.

But it was the dog working with border agents at the arrivals gate that sniffed out the parasites when he got to his destination.

Officials searched the man's luggage to find the leeches packed into a reusable grocery bag. Testing confirmed they were a threatened medicinal leech which had come from the wild.

"These species are regulated because over-harvesting of medicinal leeches from the wild is a major threat to the species," Environment and Climate Change Canada said in a statement.

Remarkably, every single leech managed to survive.

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Bodounov -- who is thought to be the first person in Canada caught importing the species -- pleaded guilty to the unlawful import of a regulated species.

Photo: Environment and Climate Change Canada via Twitter

What he planned to do with the pile of parasites remains a mystery.

According to National Geographic, some people use the leeches as a form of naturopathic medicine, believing they cleanse the body of "bad" blood.

Their saliva has also been used to stimulate blood flow.