Brunei seizes nearly 2,000 turtle eggs from suspected Malaysian smuggler

Brunei authorities seized 1,983 eggs of endangered turtles that were being smuggled from Malaysia into the tiny sultanate, a news report said Monday.

Customs officials found the eggs in a car Sunday after questioning a 36-year-old Malaysian man who was behaving suspiciously while driving the vehicle through an immigration checkpoint that borders Malaysia's eastern Sarawak state, the Borneo Bulletin newspaper reported.

The man claimed he was carrying salted fish for sale, but authorities detained him after discovering the eggs hidden in boxes and bags, the report quoted unidentified officials as saying.

The report, which showed a photograph of some of the eggs, said the suspect could face a fine under Brunei's wildlife laws that list sea turtles as endangered and make it illegal to sell turtle eggs, which have long been considered a delicacy in the region.

No other details were available, and officials representing the Royal Customs and Excise Department at the Kuala Lurah checkpoint could not immediately be reached for comment, reports AP.

At least three of the world's seven sea turtle species the green, the hawksbill and the olive ridley land on the beaches of Borneo island, which includes Brunei, to lay their eggs. All seven species are listed as endangered or are threatened with extinction.