Buffalo, N.Y. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Field Operations announced the seizure of five birds which were being smuggled into the United States by a United States citizen.
On December 15, CBP officers encountered a 41-year-old United States citizen and resident of Oceanside, N.Y., as he applied for admission into the United States at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Buffalo, N.Y. The subject advised CBP officers that he was returning from a one day trip visiting friends in Toronto and had nothing to declare. During initial questioning, the subject aroused the suspicion of CBP officers, and was subsequently referred for an enforcement exam.
During the course of the secondary inspection, the subject recanted his initial declaration and advised CBP officers that he was in possession of five birds concealed in his vehicle. CBP officers conducted an inspection of the vehicle and discovered five live canaries contained in a wooden box behind the passenger seat.
Agents from Immigration and Custom Enforcement and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assisted CBP officers and agriculture specialists in the initial investigation of the smuggling case. The interview revealed that the subject is a collector of birds, allegedly having more than 200 as pets at his home in Oceanside. He admitted that his sole purpose for traveling to Canada was to acquire the birds and that he knew it was illegal to import birds without proper documentation and the required USDA veterinary exam, but did so because they were cheaper in Canada.
The undeclared birds were seized by CBP and transferred to the custody of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Division of Veterinary Services.
"A monetary penalty of $300.00 was assessed and the case was referred to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Investigative and Enforcement Services for further action and possible criminal prosecution," said Kevin Corsaro, CBP public affairs liaison for the Buffalo Field Office. "The smuggling of such birds increases the chances that a communicable bird disease, such as Exotic Newcastle or Avian Influenza, could enter the United States. CBP officers and agricultures specialists continue to execute their responsibilities which include protecting the United States food crops and livestock from agricultural pests and diseases."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.