PHOTO: Smuggler Caught With 14 Birds in Pants

bird smuggler photo
Email to a Friend


May 6, 2009—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

NEWS FEEDS    After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS




ADVERTISEMENT

 

50 Drives of a Lifetime

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.