PROGRESO, Texas—U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers and agriculture specialists at the Progreso International Bridge made an unusual discovery this past week when they encountered four undeclared spider monkeys concealed inside a duffle bag.
“While conducting their inspections, our officers will often encounter a myriad of prohibited agriculture products,” said Port Director Walter Weaver, Port of Progreso. “Sometimes these encounters yield hidden exotic animals, such as in this case.”
On Dec. 30, 2021, a 20-year-old female U.S. citizen driver arrived at the Progreso International Bridge in a 2017 Jeep Patriot and a CBP officer referred her for further inspection. Officers conducting the secondary inspection discovered four spider monkeys hidden inside a duffle bag and working together with CBP agriculture specialists cautiously removed them from the bag, placing them in an animal container.
CBP OFO contacted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). USFWS identified the animals as spider monkeys (Ateles sp.). Spider monkeys are considered New World monkeys which are found in tropical forests of Central and South America, including southern Mexico and are considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The woman was issued a penalty by CBP and the spider monkeys were returned to Mexico.
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.