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Smuggler Carrying Poisonous Snakes

A passenger arriving in this southern Russian city from Uzbekistan had his luggage confiscated Friday when inspectors discovered he was carrying 14 bags of poisonous snakes.

The ITAR-Tass news agency said the man claimed to have only turtles and harmless grass snakes, but customs officials checking the bags found about 200 poisonous snakes. There was one bag of turtles.

The report did not say why the man, who had flown from the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, was carrying the reptiles to Russia.

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Backchannel, ‘Dracula’ help free Utah man in Venezuela

new  A secret backchannel led by a veteran Republican Senate staffer and a flamboyant Venezuelan official nicknamed “Dracula” broke through hostile relations between the two governments to secure the release of American prisoner Joshua Holt, who traveled to the South American country for love and ended up in jail, without a trial, for two years.