Friday, May 8, 2009

Smuggler Caught With 14 Birds in Pants at Los Angeles International Airport

Have you ever heard the old saying, "A bird in hand?" Well, this guy had birds in his pants and was hoping to fly through customs with no problem. What stopped his safe flight from detection? You'll just have to read this to find out by going to...

The National Geographic News

  Given away by bird poop on his socks, fancy pants here was charged Tuesday in California with smuggling exotic Asian songbirds from Vietnam into the United States by strapping them onto his legs.

  Droppings on Sony Dong's socks and feathers peeking out from under a pant leg tipped off a Los Angeles International Airport inspector in March, who arrested the 46-year-old.

  Dong wore an elaborate set of leggings with buttoned cloth wrappings, which held more than a dozen birds (pictured), the Associated Press reported.

  Inspectors had flagged Dong for inspection because he had abandoned a suitcase of 18 birds in the L.A. airport in December 2008.

He had returned to Vietnam in February to collect more songbirds, which included red-whiskered bulbuls, magpie robins, and shama thrushes.

The animals sell for up to U.S. $400 each in the United States, U.S. Attorney's Office spokesperson Thom Mrozek told the Associated Press.

"They're rare and there are collectors who are willing to pay top dollar for these things," he said.

(Related: "900 Oven-Ready Owls, 7,000 Live Lizards Seized in Asia.")

The birds, now in quarantine, may be donated to a zoo.

Dong, who was charged with conspiracy, is currently free as a bird on bail.

—Christine Dell'Amore

Photograph by AP/Department of Justice

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