Exotic Birds Smuggler Intercepted at Los Angeles International Airport

LOS ANGELES — On May 2, federal agents arrested a male U.S. citizen, resident of Fountain Valley after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers and Agriculture Specialists discovered 50 live birds, and 43 dead birds concealed in his luggage when he arrived to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from Ho Chi Minh City on March 24. Soon after the seizure, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) confirmed that only eight birds survived.

CBP Officers at LAX intercepted a man, who had 93 birds concealed in his baggage. Only eight of the birds survived (credit: CBP)

The suspect was arrested after FWS investigators determined that some of the birds were endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The suspect is charged with smuggling goods into the United States, a felony offense that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

Some of the birds concealed in his baggage were endangered species (credit: CBP)

CBP Officers referred the male passenger arriving from Vietnam for a routine agricultural inspection. During an X-ray screening of the passenger’s belongings, CBP Agriculture Specialists detected anomalies inside the baggage. Further inspection revealed numerous live birds concealed within the bags. Agents with the FWS were contacted and the birds were immediately placed into quarantine.

The suspect was released on bond. His next scheduled appearance is June 5

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