The U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized two toucans wrapped in stockings hidden inside the purse of a woman who was attempting to cross the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.
A CPB officer encountered a 35-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman in a 2015 Toyota Camry, applying for entry into the U.S. at the Otay Mesa vehicle lanes on Dec. 26 at about 4 p.m.
Upon inspection, a CBP agricultural specialist found two live birds, later identified as toucans, wrapped in stockings and concealed inside the woman’s purse.
“Smuggling live animals, especially endangered species, is a serious offense and this significant seizure demonstrates the lengths a smuggler will go to for their own financial gain,” said Jenifer De La O, CBP Director of Field Operations in San Diego. “Our officers and agriculture specialists work hard every day to stop these horrible acts and protect our wildlife species for future generations to enjoy.”
Authorities detained both travelers for the live birds smuggling attempt and turned them over to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigators, and Fish and Wildlife Services. Officers also seized the toucans and vehicle.
CBP officials report the live toucans were placed in a secure and safe area after the seizure. They will remain in quarantine for “ veterinarian examination and proper disposition,”according to CBP.