Officials: Man Arrested for Hiding 34 Finches in Plastic Curlers

In this photo provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, some of the 70 live finches that were found Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, hidden inside hair rollers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, are fed by U.S. Agriculture Department veterinarians. Authorities say a passenger arriving from Guyana …
U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP

A man was arrested for attempting to smuggle a flock of 34 finches past U.S. customs at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sunday, officials said.

Officials charged Francis Gurahoo, 39, of Connecticut, for allegedly smuggling the songbirds from Guyana into the U.S., according to a complaint obtained by CNN.

Gurahoo is accused of wrapping live birds into plastic hair curlers into his carry-on luggage, and he allegedly told prosecutors he planned to sell the songbird suitcase for a sum of $100,000, the complaint stated.

The Guyanese finches are often used among criminals for gambling purposes. Gamblers bet on the finches and on how well they sing against each other.

“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 states.

A report from the New York Times found that a finch with a fine pedigree can go for up to $10,000 a piece, although the average finch will probably sell for a few thousand dollars.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials told the Times that the agency had caught nearly 200 finches at airports in 2018 alone.


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