San Diego - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers performing outbound operations Monday at the San Ysidro port of entry stopped a pickup truck heading south on Interstate 5 with 50 birds restrained and hidden in the bed of the truck.
When authorities were able to remove the 46 roosters and four hens from their tightly packed compartment, 16 of the birds from the bottom of the compartment were dead.
At about 10:15 a.m., CBP officers pulled aside an older, white pickup truck, with Baja California, Mexico plates, driven by a 32-year-old male Mexican citizen, and resident of Tijuana, heading south towards Mexico.
Upon inspecting the vehicle, CBP officers found a hidden compartment in the truck bed.
Inside, officers discovered the birds, each stuffed in a nylon stocking with its legs restrained by a Velcro tie to prevent the birds from moving. The birds were stacked on top of one another, two or three deep, in a specially built compartment that hung from the underside of the pickup truck.
Authorities believe the birds were likely sedated for their trip and likely would have been sold in Mexico for confrontational rooster fights and related breeding purposes.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture transported the birds to a facility for their safekeeping. The birds that lived through the smuggling attempt appear to be in good health.
CBP turned custody of the driver over to USDA, Office of Inspector General. The driver is facing criminal charges, and is currently being held at the San Diego Metropolitan Correctional Center.
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.