NEWS

Writhing pepper leads to stolen tortoise trove

BUDAPEST (AP) – Customs officers in Hungary seized 60 protected Greek tortoises after discovering them in a minibus leaving for Austria, a customs spokesman said yesterday. The reptiles were found in sacks also containing green paprika at the Hegyeshalom border crossing, 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Budapest, said Lt. Col. Istvan Szabo. «We discovered the tortoises after we saw the paprika move,» Szabo said. Two Germans and a citizen of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were detained by police, while the animals were taken to a local zoo. Last year, Hungarian customs officials sent 320 tortoises back to Greece, nearly a year after rescuing them from smugglers who intended to sell them as pets.