By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry thwarted a significant smuggling attempt after discovering two live toucans wrapped in stockings hidden inside a traveler’s purse.
The incident occurred around 4 p.m., on December 26, when a Customs and Border Protection officer encountered two travelers, a 35-year-old male, and a 37-year-old female, in a 2015 Toyota Camry, applying for entry into the U.S. at the Otay Mesa vehicle lanes.
The officer referred both travelers and the vehicle for further inspection. During the examination, a Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist found two live birds, later identified as toucans, wrapped in stockings, and concealed inside the traveler’s purse.
“Smuggling live animals, especially endangered species, is a serious offense and this significant seizure demonstrates the lengths a smuggler will go for their own financial gain,” said Jenifer De La O, Customs and Border Protection 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.”
Customs and Border Protection officers detained both travelers for the live birds smuggling attempt and turned them over to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigators, and Fish and Wildlife Services for further processing.
The officers seized the toucans and vehicle. The live toucans were placed in a secure and safe area. The live birds will remain in quarantine for veterinarian examination and proper disposition.