Two men charged for allegedly smuggling 26 finches in hair curlers
Two men were arrested Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport and charged for illegally smuggling finches from Guyana, ABC News reports.
Twenty-six birds were found stuffed in hair curlers and placed in the socks of the defendants, identified as 72- year-old Victor Benjamin and 57-year-old Insaf Ali. Benjamin and Ali were stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after they landed at the airport on a flight from Guyana.
“My investigation has revealed that individuals keep finches to enter them in singing contests,” said Gabriel Harper of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “In such contests, often conducted in public areas like parks, two finches sing and a judge selects the bird determined to have the best voice.”
Those who attend the singing contests, according to ABC, wager on the birds. The finch who wins can sell for $5,000 or more, Haper said.
Benjamin and Ali made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn and were released on a $20,000 bond. They did not enter a plea. If convicted the men could face up to 20 years in prison.
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