13 parrots found hidden in duffel bags at US border, officials say

The yellow-headed parrots are pictured in a provided image. (Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

U.S border officials found 13 yellow-headed parrots hidden in duffel bags in a vehicle attempting to cross into the United States. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the parrots were discovered on June 16 at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, located between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. 

Officials said a 26-year-old male driving a 2010 sedan and applying for entry into the U.S. had hidden the live birds in two duffel bags in the trunk of the car. 

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"During an initial inspection, a CBP officer referred the driver and vehicle to secondary for further examination," the agency said in a statement. 

"While inspecting the commodities, CBP agriculture specialists discovered thirteen live yellow-headed parrots concealed in two duffel bags in the trunk of the vehicle," it added.

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The driver was detained by the attempted smuggling attempt and turned over to Homeland Security Investigators and Fish and Wildlife Services for further processing, CBP said.

The parrots were placed in a "secure and safe" area by CBP agriculture specialists. Officials said they would remain under quarantine by US Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services to make sure no avian diseases were affecting the birds.

"CBP enforces hundreds of laws at the border for more than 40 different government agencies, in order to help stop smuggling attempts like these which can lead to trafficking of possibly endangered species," Sidney Aki, CBP director of field operations in San Diego, said in a statement. "Smugglers attempt to deceive CBP officers with no consideration for the health and safety of the animals; CBP aims to continuously enforce USDA and CDC guidelines."

On a typical day in 2022, CBP agriculture specialists found 240 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 2,677 materials for quarantine – including plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil, the agency said.

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.