Francis Gurahoo planned to sell the birds for $3,000 each for use in singing competitions, officials say
Wed 19 Jun 2019 02.50 BST
A 39-year-old man has been caught allegedly trying to smuggle nearly three dozen live finches through John F Kennedy Airport in New York in order to sell them for singing competitions.
Francis Gurahoo was arrested on Sunday after arriving on a flight from Georgetown, Guyana. Prosecutors said customs officials found 34 live birds in his carry-on luggage hidden inside individual plastic hair curlers.
Gurahoo was arraigned on Monday on a charge of unlawful wildlife smuggling.
The finches are native to Guyana, officials said, and are highly prized. They are alledgedly used in singing contests in New York where bets are placed on the birds with the best voice.
Prosecutors alleged Gurahoo said he planned to sell them for about $3,000 each, which would have netted him more than $100,000.
Last December, customs officials at JFK airport found 70 live finches hidden inside hair rollers in a duffel bag from a passenger arriving from Guyana.
US customs officials said bird smuggling could threaten agriculture through the possible spread of diseases such as bird flu