Customs officials in Ecuador discovered 185 baby tortoises packed inside a suitcase that was being sent from the Galápagos Islands to the mainland on Sunday.
The reptiles had been wrapped in plastic and were found during a routine inspection at the main airport on the island of Baltra.
Ten of them had died, officials said.
One of the biggest threats to Galápagos tortoises is illegal trading for animal collectors and exotic pet markets.
The tortoises seized at the airport on Baltra are thought to be less than three months old.
Officials combatting wildlife trafficking say hatchling-sized juveniles can fetch sums of more than $5,000 (£3,600) per animal.
It is believed the smugglers wrapped the tortoises in plastic to immobilise them but the X-ray machine’s operator at the airport nevertheless grew suspicious.
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SOURCE: BBC News