Guyana man arrested at JFK airport for smuggling 35 singing finches into the United States


He sang like a canary! Passenger is arrested at JFK airport for smuggling 35 live finches inside hair curlers in his jacket and pants

  • Kevin Andre McKenzie, 36, was caught after an investigation by special agents with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service 
  • He was released on a $25,000 bond Tuesday and was seen leaving federal court in Brooklyn wearing the same clothes he wore at the airport 
  • Photos from the complaint show the birds inside of hair curlers strapped to his legs and inside his jacket 
  • The finches are believed to have been smuggled into the country to compete in singing contests held in parks in New York City 

A Guyana man tried to smuggle 35 live finches into New York inside his jacket and trousers so they could compete in singing contests, investigators say. 

Kevin Andre McKenzie, 36, is said to have been caught with the birds stuffed inside hair curlers at JFK Airport on Monday, according to a criminal complaint. 

He was released on a $25,000 bond Tuesday and was seen leaving federal court in Brooklyn wearing the same clothes he was seen in at the airport. Photos from the complaint show the birds inside of hair curlers strapped to his legs and inside his jacket.

The finches are believed to have been smuggled into the country to compete in singing contests held in parks in New York City, according to the complaint.

Kevin Andre McKenzie, 36, was caught after an investigation by special agents with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

He was released on a $25,000 bond Tuesday and was seen leaving federal court in Brooklyn wearing the same clothes he was seen in at the airport

He was released on a $25,000 bond Tuesday and was seen leaving federal court in Brooklyn wearing the same clothes he was seen in at the airport

McKenzie is pictured showing the inside lining of his suit jacket

McKenzie had finches inside hair rollers strapped to his legs and inside his jacket

McKenzie is pictured showing the inside lining of his suit jacket which had finches inside hair rollers strapped to it

A finch is pictured looking up from the inside of a hair curler. The smuggled birds compete in singing contests

A finch is pictured looking up from the inside of a hair curler. The smuggled birds compete in singing contests 

McKenzie shows off finches hidden inside hair curlers strapped around his ankles

McKenzie shows off finches hidden inside hair curlers strapped around his ankles

‘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 reads.

‘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.’

McKenzie allegedly entered the country on Monday on JetBlue flight JB1966 from Georgetown, Guyana and was selected for examination by customs officials.

He waived his Miranda rights and told agents he was paid $2,500 to smuggle in the birds, which he was to receive after leaving the airport.

The complaint notes that some finch species are already available in the United States but species that live in Guyana ‘are believed to sing better and are therefore more valuable.’

Finch smugglers can earn big bucks by selling these birds in the New York area.

People looking to import wildlife are required to file a signed and completed Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife form and obtain a permit. 

Regulations mandate that imported birds must be quarantined for 30 days so as not to spread diseases carried by foreign birds, ‘including Newcastle disease — a contagious avian virus than can infect humans and domestic poultry — and bird flu.’

Kevin Andre McKenzie, 36, from Guyana is released from Brooklyn Federal court on Tuesday

Kevin Andre McKenzie, 36, from Guyana is released from Brooklyn Federal court on Tuesday

McKenzie tried to shield his face from reporters with paper

McKenzie tried to shield his hands outside of federal court

McKenzie tried to shield his face from reporters with paper as well as his hands outside of federal court

DailyMail.com has reached out to the Fish and Wildlife Service for more information and additional comment. It was not immediately clear what happened with the finches after McKenzie’s arrest.

Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found 29 finches concealed in hair rollers inside a the luggage of another man from Guyana, 

That man, a 26-year-old was unnamed, also flew into the country from Georgetown, CBP officials said in a press release at the time. 

However, he was not criminally charged and was slapped with a $300 fine by the agency allowing him to return to Guyana.

Ryan Noel, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, said that case showed ‘the horror of wildlife trafficking.’

Noel added: ‘I would like to thank U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their assistance with this case. 

‘By working together, we can help protect humans, and wildlife, for future generations.’ 

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