JFK Passenger Had 35 Live Finches In His Pants, Jacket: Feds


A man from Guyana — Kevin Andre McKenzie, 36 — is accused of smuggling the birds that are prized in singing contests, authorities said.

Matt Troutman, Patch StaffVerified Patch Staff BadgePosted Tue, Apr 27, 2021 at 4:45 pm ET|Updated Tue, Apr 27, 2021 at 5:02 pm ET


One of 35 finches found stuff in hair curlers that customs officials said they found on a man accused of smuggling the birds through JFK Airport.
One of 35 finches found stuff in hair curlers that customs officials said they found on a man accused of smuggling the birds through JFK Airport. (United States District Court Eastern District Of New York)

NEW YORK CITY — A passenger flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport tried to smuggle a flock of finches into the country, authorities said.

Customs officials found 35 live finches stuffed in hair curlers concealed on the passenger — Kevin Andre McKenzie, 36 — Monday, according to a federal criminal complaint.

The birds are prized for singing contests in Brooklyn and Queens, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent who filed the complaint wrote.https://45560797dd1b5e4c83b3b21ac05689ab.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“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,” the complaint states. “Many who attend the singing contests wager on the birds. A finch who wins these competitions becomes valuable and can sell for more than $10,000. Although certain species of finch are available in the United States, species from Guyana are believed to sing better and are therefore more valuable.”

McKenzie is a resident of Guyana, authorities said. He flew from the South American country and arrived at JFK, where customs agents searched him, the complaint states.

They found the birds stuffed in hair rollers concealed beneath his pants legs and jacket, the complaint states.

A criminal complaint shows bird-stuffed hair curlers authorities said they found Monday on a man they accused of smuggling. (United States District Court Eastern District of New York)

“The defendant told agents that he had been offered $3,000 to smuggle the birds into the United States,” the complaint states. “He was paid $500 before the flight, and he expected to
receive the remaining $2,500 when he exited Customs.”

United States law prohibits importing wildlife and specifies commercial birds must be quarantined for 30 days to prevent the spread of diseases such as bird flu.

McKenzie faces a charge of intentionally and unlawfully importing and bringing into the United States merchandise contrary to law. He was released on a $25,000 bond.

Portland Woman Sentenced for Selling Pangolin Scales Illegally Imported into the U.S.


Department of JusticeU.S. Attorney’s OfficeDistrict of Oregon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMonday, April 12, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland resident and purveyor of Chinese homeopathic remedies pleaded guilty and was sentenced today for selling pangolin scales illegally imported into the U.S., announced Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

Agnes Yu, 53, was sentenced to three years’ federal probation and a $5,000 fine.

“Illegal trafficking poses a grave and persistent threat to wildlife populations across the globe. The purchase or sale of these animals is a serious crime and priority for federal law enforcement,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Asphaug.

“We commend the Department of Justice and all other agencies that played a role in aiding this investigation and prosecution,” said James Ashburner, a Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. “Trafficking of pangolins, and other protected species, is a huge part of global illegal wildlife trade. The Service will continue to use every tool at its disposal to fight wildlife trafficking and bring to justice the individuals who are depriving our planet of these magnificent creatures for their own profit.”

According to court documents, Yu and her husband operated Wing Ming Herbs, a store selling Chinese homeopathic remedies and other merchandise in Southeast Portland. On December 7, 2003, U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel screened Yu and her husband at the U.S.-Canada border. The inspection recovered 10 dried sea snakes and 49 dried big-toothed sea snakes. As a result of this encounter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent the Yus a letter informing them about federal laws and regulations governing the import and export of wildlife into and out of the U.S, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES lists each of the wildlife species whose trafficking it regulates under one of three appendices, with the most endangered and protected listed in Appendix I.

On November 14, 2017, an undercover Postal Inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service went to Wing Ming and spoke with Yu in Chinese. The inspector covertly recorded and videotaped the meeting. In the course of their transaction, Yu sold the inspector thirty grams of pangolin scales for approximately $165. Personnel at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory later confirmed the scales had been taken from a pangolin, a species of scaled anteater-like mammals endemic to Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  All species of pangolins (which form the genus Manis) are listed in CITES Appendix I, meaning that all commercial trafficking in pangolins is prohibited by the Convention.

Yu was aware of U.S. and foreign restrictions on the import, export, and sale of CITES-listed plants and wildlife but did not comply with those restrictions. Yu repeatedly exported American ginseng to customers in China in 2017 and 2018. American ginseng is listed on CITES appendix II, requiring exporters to obtain and ship such ginseng with a valid CITES certificate. Neither Yu nor Wing Ming Herbs procured such certificates.

On July 24, 2018, an undercover agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service went to Wing Ming Herbs and purchased giant sea horses, which are protected by CITES appendix II and fourteen shark fins, four of which originated from scalloped hammerhead sharks, which are protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On the same date, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted a search warrant at Wing Ming Herbs and seized additional pangolin scales, ground Asian elephant ivory which is protected by CITES Appendix I and ESA, eleven penises and fifteen gall bladders of red deer which are protected by ESA, and giant devil ray which is protected by CITES Appendix II. Yu agreed to abandon all the wildlife seized in the search warrant, which included thousands of additional wildlife items.

On March 22, 2021, Yu was charged by criminal information with recklessly selling pangolin illegally imported into the U.S. in violation of CITES.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Plant Protection Quarantine, and the Oregon State Police. It was prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for protecting America’s wildlife from poaching, illegal commercialization, and other kinds of wildlife crime. If you have information related to a wildlife crime, please call 1-844-FWS-TIPS (1-844-397-8477) or email fws_tips@fws.gov.

Click here for a Simplified Chinese translation of this press releaseConfiscated dried sea horsesConfiscated dried sea horsesConfiscated fried pangolin scalesConfiscated fried pangolin scalesConfiscated Asian elephant ivory powderConfiscated Asian elephant ivory powderConfiscated dried shark finsConfiscated dried shark fins

Nearly 30 finches found concealed in hair rollers inside man’s luggage at JFK Airport


by: Molly Jirasek, Nexstar Media WirePosted: Apr 1, 2021 / 06:42 AM EDT / Updated: Apr 1, 2021 / 06:42 AM EDT

Photo provided by: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — A man from Guyana did not make it past John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport Sunday after 29 live finches were found in his baggage. The birds were hidden inside some colorful hair rollers.

Photo provided by: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The 26-year-old was traveling from Georgetown, Guyana to New Jersey when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered the finches during a secondary baggage examination. In a news release, CBP said he was not criminally charged, but will have to pay a $300 civil penalty. He was put on a plane back to Guyana, Monday.

The finches were quarantined and put in the care of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services.

Photo provided by: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The reason federal agencies take swift action in situations like this is because of the risk of introducing the bird flu into the U.S. poultry industry.

The industry was dealt a big blow during a 2015 outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in the U.S. died or were intentionally killed to stop the spread of the disease. They said that is about 12% of the country’s egg-laying population and 8% of the estimated turkeys raised for meat. As for the economic impact, losses were estimated at more than $1 billion.

CBP said during a regular day in 2020, they seized 3,091 prohibited plant, meat, animal byproducts, and soil, and intercepted 250 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry nationwide.

NewsNation reached out to CBP to ask why the man attempted to sneak the birds into the U.S. CBP could not say why the birds were being brought into the country, but previous news reports indicate finches have been smuggled and sold for bird singing competitions.

Photo provided by: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Georgia turtle trapper accused of illegally trapping thousands of freshwater turtles

By FOX 5 Atlanta Digital TeamPublished 4 days agoPets and AnimalsFOX 5 Atlanta


Sea turtles rescued from cold

Four sea turtles were rescued and are being cared for at the Georgia Aquarium after they were caught in winter weather up north (Credit: Georgia Aquarium).

ATLANTA – A prolific turtle trapper is accused of illegally trapping and exporting thousands of freshwater turtles in Georgia.

Nathan Horton, 36, was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly violating the Lacey Act, which regulates the trafficking and labeling of wildlife, fish, and plants.  Ad Content by Taboola | Sponsored StoriesNow presenting: Potential home and auto savings!Progressive | Auto Insurance Quotes|Sponsored The Best Credit Cards For Huge RewardsNerdWallet|Sponsored 

According to the indictment, beginning by at least July 2015 and continuing until at least July 2017, Horton shipped thousands of freshwater turtles from Georgia to California that had been trapped using turtle nets that were illegal under Georgia law. Although Horton held a Commercial Turtle Permit during this time and GA-DNR sends all commercial permit holders the applicable Georgia statutes and GA-DNR regulations on turtle traps, Horton repeatedly used illegal traps to capture freshwater turtles. In October 2016 and August 2017, while holding a commercial permit, GA-DNR cited Horton for using illegal traps to capture freshwater turtles, the indictment stated.

Among the species of turtles Horton allegedly trapped illegally were: Stripe-necked musk turtle (Sternotherus minor peltifer), Loggerhead musk turtle (Sternotherus minor), Common musk turtle or stinkpot or eastern musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus), and Eastern mud turtles (Kinosternon subrubrum).

Florida officials say several people charged in flying squirrel trafficking operation

By Christina Maxouris, CNN


Updated 6:59 AM ET, Tue October 20, 2020Seven people were arrested in a flying squirrel trafficking operation. Seven people were arrested in a flying squirrel trafficking operation.

(CNN)At least seven people have been arrested and charged in an “elaborate organized enterprise” to smuggle Florida’s flying squirrels — protected wildlife in the state — and sell them, investigators announced Monday.Up to 10,000 traps were set up across the state to capture the flying squirrels and as many as 3,600 of the animals were shipped overseas within three years “to be sold as exotic pets for hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said in a news release.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners revealed, with tiger image scooping top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners revealed, with tiger image scooping top prizeThe investigation started last year after the commission received an anonymous tip about people illegally trapping flying squirrels in one Florida county, the release said. The animals were illegally captured by poachers across several counties and sold to a dealer. The animals were then laundered through the business of the dealer, “who claimed they were captive bred,” the commission said.Officials said buyers would travel from South Korea to purchase the flying squirrels from the dealer, and the animals would then be driven to other parts of the country before being exported to Asia.Content by Trend MicroThis service keeps your computer running smoothlyThe internet really has opened up a whole new world. Literally. Anytime you open up your laptop, you have an entire globe’s worth of information at your fingertips.Investigators also learned the Florida suspects trafficked other animals as well, including protected freshwater turtles and alligators, the commission said.

Millions of wild animals are killed or injured unintentionally each year in the US. Here's how you can help

Millions of wild animals are killed or injured unintentionally each year in the US. Here’s how you can help“Wildlife conservation laws protect Florida’s precious natural resources from abuse. The concerned citizen who initially reported this activity started an investigation that uncovered a major smuggling operation,” Maj. Grant Burton, FWC Investigation’s section leader, said in a statement.“These poachers could have severely damaged Florida’s wildlife populations.”More arrests are expected, officials said.

Forty-four years of global trade in CITES-listed snakes: Trends and implications for conservation and public health

Author links open overlay panelFleurHierinkab1IsabelleBolona1Andrew M.DursoadRafaelRuiz de CastañedaaCarlosZambrana-TorreliocEvan A.EskewcNicolasRayabShow morehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108601Get rights and content



Trade in CITES-listed snakes is dominated by commercially purposed pythons.•

Live snakes are mainly exported by Ghana, Indonesia, Togo and Benin, and imported by China and the USA.•

Traded snakes are increasingly reported as being sourced from captivity rather than the wild.•

Potentially invasive snake species are heavily traded as pets.•

Traded venomous snakes are mainly wild-caught, potentially increasing snakebite risk.


Trade in venomous and non-venomous snakes can negatively impact wild snake populations and may drive snakebite risk for people. However, we often lack sufficient trade data to identify where the potential risks for snake population decline and snakebite are highest. Currently, the legal, international trade of 164 snake species is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). We analyzed CITES-listed snake trade from 1975 to 2018 using the recently released shipment-level CITES Trade Database to identify spatiotemporal trends of snake trade and generate insights regarding snake conservation and potential public health risks from snakebite. Commercially purposed pythons dominated the global snake trade, comprising 38.8% of all traded snakes. Live snakes were mainly exported by Ghana, Indonesia, Togo, and Benin, and imported by China and the USA. Venomous snake trade comprised 10.8% of all traded snakes, and over 75% of wild-sourced venomous snakes came from Indonesia. Although traded snakes in recent years are increasingly comprised of captive-bred animals, the majority of snakes are still wild-sourced (> 60% between 2015 and 2017), including IUCN-listed species, with potentially detrimental impacts on conservation status. Further, the CITES Trade Database reveals geographic regions where venomous snakes are sourced from the wild, posing potential risks to snake catchers, traders, and pet owners. The database also documents the movement of non-native snake species through trade, with implications for conservation of native species. This study represents the first global analysis focused specifically on CITES-listed snake trade using the CITES Trade Database.

12-year prison term not enough for wildlife traffickers

By: Jhesset O. Enano – Reporter / @JhessetEnanoINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:26 AM March 06, 2020

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is backing a House bill imposing stiffer penalties on wildlife crime.

In a position paper submitted to the House committee on natural resources this week and obtained by the Inquirer, the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) said wildlife trafficking had remained unabated and resulted in greater loss of the country’s
resources—20 years after the enactment in 2001 of Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

It called for stiffer fines and penalties against such illegal acts as killing, trading, hunting or transporting wildlife, as well as the inclusion of specific circumstances that would mean the maximum penalty against offenders.

“Similar to drugs and illegal trafficking of persons, wildlife trafficking is now at the level of transnational crime,” Assistant Environment Secretary and BMB chief Ricardo Calderon said in an interview.

“We’ve seen that wildlife crime is very rampant and moves across boundaries … Hopefully the increase in pe­nalty will be a big deterrent, because now the penalties are very low, with some spanning for just six months to a year,” Calderon said.
12 years not enough

Among the provisions the DENR wants to include in House Bill No. 265, authored by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, are imprisonment of up to 20 years (reclusion temporal) for offenders who kill or destroy species listed as critically endangered and fines ranging from P200,000 to P2 million.

Under the present law, people committing the same crime face only up to
12 years in jail and fines ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.

Illegal traders of critically endangered animals can be jailed for four years and fined P50,000 to P600,000, under the proposed amendments.

This is in contrast to the current penalties, with jail time of only up to two years and fines ranging from P5,000 to P300,000.

Wildlife laundering—in which traders disguise the origin and ownership of illegally acquired wildlife by making it appear as though they came from legitimate sources—will also be punishable under the amended law.

Despite record seizures of smuggled wildlife in recent years valued at billions of pesos, prosecuting wildlife criminals remains a huge challenge for the government.

Traders go scot-free with lax penalties, overburdened courts and lack of knowledge among legal professionals, while repeat offenders easily skirt through the system.
Only 70 cases

An earlier Inquirer report showed that more than 26,700 wildlife were confiscated in at least 123 enforcement operations from 2013 to 2018.
But in that period, only 70 cases against wildlife criminals had been filed, with only 18 convictions.

Of the 228 identified offenders, only 30 had been penalized—and not all of them spent time in jail.

“Many continue to take risks because there is a market,” Calderon said.
“With the value of animals worth millions and with very low penalties, it’s really worth risking.”

Another reason for the government’s shortcomings in dealing with wildlife crime is the notion that these are small-time offenses, said Environment Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr.

“There is a common notion that these crimes do not have victims, so they consider it second-class crimes or offenses,” Adobo said. “In fact, the victims [in] these crimes are the wild animals themselves.”

In its paper, the DENR-BMB sought to include specific circumstances that would mean the maximum penalty against trafficking wildlife.

For instance, the number of specimens involved in violations should be considered since many confiscations involved several numbers of animals of different species and with different conditions during capture.
Maximum penalty

Under the bill, repeat offenders will be prosecuted with the maximum penalty—the same with those who commit crimes through inducing indigenous peoples.

The Asean Centre for Biodiversity had earlier reported that the Philippines loses P50 billion every year due to the illegal trade. The archipelago serves as a source, transit point and destination for trafficked animals.

Among the most trafficked animals were those seen only in the Philippines, such as the Philippine pangolin and Philippine pond turtle.
Both are classified as critically endangered.

Read more:
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook


Russian Watchdog Warns Six Walrus Calves From ‘Whale Jail’ May Be Smuggled To China

Zeeshan Aziz (@imziishan) 13 minutes ago Thu 05th December 2019 | 05:29 PM Russian Watchdog Warns Six Walrus Calves From ‘Whale Jail’ May Be Smuggled to China A Russian environmental watchdog has questioned the legitimacy of an appeal by the Akvatoriya company in Vladivostok to sell to China six baby walruses that were captured in 2018 in Chukotka by two companies implicated in the recent “whale jail” scandal, the watchdog’s press service told Sputnik on Thursday

MOSCOW/VLADIVOSTOK (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 05th December, 2019) A Russian environmental watchdog has questioned the legitimacy of an appeal by the Akvatoriya company in Vladivostok to sell to China six baby walruses that were captured in 2018 in Chukotka by two companies implicated in the recent “whale jail” scandal, the watchdog’s press service told Sputnik on Thursday.

According to the Federal Agency for Supervision of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor), on November 25, 2019, Akvatoriya lodged a request to issue a permit under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to export six baby walruses from Russia to China. The documents provided by the company, however, raised questions on the origin of the animals.

“Thus, taking into account that the date of birth indicated in the animals’ passports is 2018, the age of the animals at the time of capture could not exceed 10 months. There is no information about the address and conditions of keeping the walruses in the exporter’s request. As part of the review procedure, we sent a request to the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency on the legitimacy of catching the given walruses,” the press service stated.

According to the Russian legislation, capturing walruses that young is illegal. On Tuesday, the Russian Environment Ministry ordered head of Rosprirodnadzor Svetlana Radionova to check Srednyaya Bay, where the baby walruses were held in captivity. In addition, in March, one of the workers of the “whale jail” confirmed that there were walruses among the animals stranded in captivity.

The scandal involving the “whale jail” erupted last year when environmentalists found that a large group of marine mammals was held in captivity in Srednyaya Bay of the Primorsky Region. The stranded animals were being prepared to be smuggled to China. As a result of a probe into the illegal fishing of aquatic animals and animal abuse, the companies responsible for the violation were fined a total of 150 million rubles
($2.4 million). The trapped orcas and belugas were steadily released in groups from June to November.


Planet SOS: Guatemala’s illegal animal trade

Guatemala’s northern Peten region anchors the largest tropical forest north of the Amazon but as more people settle in the area, poaching and other threats to its biodiversity are rising fast.


Guatemala’s northern Peten region is home to the largest tropical forest north of the Amazon.

But as more people settle in the area, poaching and other threats to its biodiversity are rising.

A group of scientists is working to save a number of species.

Al Jazeera’s David Mercer reports from Guatemala.

Man arrested in Sakai City on charges of smuggling


Google translate of first paragraph:

The fear of extinction: “Kazumeka otter”;

Nov 27, 2019 17:03:00

A 54-year-old man who lives in Sakai, Osaka, was arrested for trying to
smuggle two Kotsumeka otters that are popular as pets and traded at high
prices in Thailand. The police are investigating as they tried to smuggle
the endangered Kotsumeka otter for resale.

Arrested by Hiroyuki Matsui (54), a self-employed person living in Sakai,
According to police and customs, Matsui suspected that in September, he
tried to bring two Kotsumeka otters, which are inter