A Connecticut man was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport after he allegedly tried to smuggle dozens of live songbirds into the country. 39-year-old Francis Gurahoo was returning to the United States from Guyana when customs officials discovered 34 live finches hidden inside of plastic hair curlers.
Officials say that Gurahoo planned to sell the birds for $3000 each to people who would enter them in bird singing competitions. Guyanese finches are highly sought after because their singing voices are considered superior to the singing voices of finches available in America.
A winning bird could sell for up $5,000, with some birds going for as much as $10,000.
Gurahoo said that "he knew what he did was wrong, but was motivated by potential financial gain," which would have been around $102,000.
He told officials he smuggled the birds in his carry-on so he could avoid the 30-day mandatory quarantine on commercial birds brought into the United States. The federal regulation is in place to prevent the spread of diseases.
Gurahoo was arraigned on one charge of unlawful wildlife smuggling and released on $25,000 bond.
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection