DEL RIO, TEXAS—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Del Rio port of entry Sunday seized three baby parrots after finding the birds hidden in a traveler's clothing and luggage.
At 3 p.m. Sunday, CBP officers at the Del Rio International Bridge inspected a taxi that had arrived from Mexico. During inspection, a CBP officer asked the passenger what he had in his pockets. The passenger, a 33-year-old Comanche, Texas resident, produced a live bird from his pants pocket. During a search of the taxi, a second bird was found in the passenger's backpack. Upon subsequent questioning, the passenger removed a third bird from his other pants pocket.
A CBP agriculture specialist took custody of the birds, identified as Half Moon Conures (Aratinga canicularis). The parrots, estimated to be less than two months old, were secured in a designated avian area pending inspection by a U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian.
CBP officers also seized 56 undeclared blades, traditionally used in illegal cock fighting from the man's luggage. He was assessed fines totaling $2,680. The parrots will be turned over to USDA.
CBP agriculture specialists protect the United States from the threat of invasive pests and diseases with inspection, detection and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the country. These items, whether in commercial cargo or with a person entering the United States, could cause serious damage to America's crops, livestock and the environment.
"Our agriculture specialists use their scientific expertise to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and plant diseases into the country," said Michael Perez, CBP port director, Del Rio. "Avian influenza and other avian diseases, such as Exotic Newcastle Disease and parrot fever, can be spread via smuggled birds. Smuggling increases the chance that a communicable bird disease could enter this country."
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.