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Customs agents prevent birds from coming across border

Citizen Staff Writer



A California man coming to Arizona from Mexico found out smuggling may be for the birds.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents uncovered a stash of eight exotic birds and two chickens in the back of his sport utility vehicle Monday morning, CBP spokesman Officer Brian Levin said in a news release.

The 60-year-old man’s lesson began around 9:30 a.m. when he was passing through the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales and was nabbed by CBP agriculture specialists, Levin said.

Levin said the man’s veritable aviary consisted of two Amazon parrots, two parakeets, two finches, two Monk parakeets and the two chickens hidden in bird cages and cardboard boxes under piles of clothing in the back of his Chevrolet SUV.

Levin did not disclose the man’s name. Federal officials typically do not release names immediately after an incident.

The man was given a $300 fine by CBP and $1,025 fine by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the release said. According to Levin, the birds were seized and turned over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services.

More live cargo was found at the same port around 8 a.m. the following day, Levin said, this time in the form of Mexican fruit fly larvae.

CBP officers searched the vehicle of a 48-year-old man from Oregon who had a stash of tropical fruit that included fresh nanches, hog plums and 103 mangoes.

The man, who Levin did not name, was fined $300 by CBP for failure to declare the agricultural items.

Levin said everyone’s fate could have been much worse, however, because CBP agriculture specialists cut open the mangoes to discover eight Mexican fruit fly larvae.

“This pest can have a devastating effect on the nation’s agriculture industry, food supply and forestry if introduced into the country inadvertently or on purpose,” Levin said.

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