SAN DIEGO – 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 at about 4 p.m., on December 26, when a CBP 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 CBP officer referred both travelers and the vehicle for further inspection. During the examination, a CBP 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, 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.”
CBP 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.
CBP 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.
CBP officers at the border crossing in Southern California stop illegal activity while processing millions of legitimate travelers into the United States.
Follow the Director of CBP’s San Diego Field Office on Twitter at @DFOSanDiegoCA for breaking news, current events, human interest stories and photos.