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Lizards, babies and hummingbirds… 10 weird things people have smuggled

Smugglers will try almost anything to bring goods into a country – even if those goods are live animals… or humans. We take a look at 10 weird cases.

detained suspect Sony Dong, with songbirds strapped to his legs at Los Angeles International Airport
detained suspect Sony Dong, with songbirds strapped to his legs at Los Angeles International Airport

A SMALL AIRPORT in French Guyana recently hit the headlines when it emerged a Dutch man tried to smuggle live hummingbirds through there… in his pants.

He had sewn the tiny helpless birds into his pants in an attempt to bring them into the country illegally.

He’s not the only person who has tried to bring items into different countries in rather unusual ways.

Sadly, many of the smuggled animals do not survive or have already been killed for their valuable parts.

  • Sixty-five wild Peruvian canaries died due to suffocation or dehydration after a Portugese man was found trying to smuggle them in through Sao Paulo International airport on 25 September 2008.  He tried to bring in 200 canaries in all, by keeping them cooped up in four cages inside two suitcases
  • In 2009, Sony Dong was sentenced to four months in prison after being found with songbirds strapped to his legs at Los Angeles International Airport. He was also ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution to federal authorities caring for the birds.
  • A whopping 1,800 seized Bengal monitor lizards were smuggled on pickup trucks from south of Thailand on 8 April this year – and the Customs Department suspected the lizards were destined to be eaten. Their meat sells for between €12 – €24 per kilogram in China, making them worth more than €45,000.
  • Thousands of euro in cash was seized this morning after being found hidden in a man’s underwear at Dublin Airport. In total, the 31-year-old man from Cameroon had €37,000 confiscated by Customs officials, who discovered it concealed in his underwear. He was stopped and searched after arriving on a flight from Charleroi Airport, south of Brussels in Belgium.
  • On March 21, 2011, two babies were found in a wooden coffer under a bed in a trailer, at a checkpoint in Luzhanka, Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities detained a French family who tried to smuggle the two 2-month-old infants hidden under a mattress in a van into Europe.
  • Spiders are often smuggled into the USA illegally. San Diego Zoo’’s Entomology Department, was given 79 arachnids given by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that were shipped into the country illegally.
  • A California man crossing into the United States at Santa Teresa in New Mexico was caught trying to smuggle three ground squirrels in 2005.  They were discovered tucked in the coat pockets of the 19-year-old and were confiscated by US Customs and Border Protection officers, who sent them to a wildlife rehabilitator.

Check out some of the strange and shocking photographs from these cases – and more – below:

Lizards, babies and hummingbirds… 10 weird things people have smuggled
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  • Thailand Wildlife Trafficking

    An Indian gharial, a type of crocodile native to India, is shown to the press during a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 2, 2011. Thai customs authorities say 431 turtles and other rare reptiles were stuffed into four suitcases and smuggled into the Bangkok airport. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
  • Smuggled Spiders

    Paige Howorth, animal care manager in the San Diego Zoo’s Entomology Department, determines the sex of a species of Chilean tarantula grammostola on Thursday. The spider is one of 79 arachnids given to the Zoo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) after being shipped into the country illegally. The Zoo has begun gathering information on each specimen and will provide this information to other zoos and accredited facilities that use spiders for display and education. The assessment includes measuring the leg span to approximate the size of the spider, determining gender, and recording the overall health of the animal. (AP Photo/San Digeo Zoo, Ken Bohn)
  • Thailand Monitor Lizards

    A Thai customs official displays one of 1,800 seized Bengal monitor lizards smuggled on pickup trucks to the capital from south of Thailand during a press conference at the customs headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, April 8, 2011. Customs Department chief suspects the lizards were destined to be eaten. He said their meat sells for US$7.50-$15 per pound (US$16-$33 per kilogram) in China, making them worth more than US$60,000. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
  • Thailand Ivory Smuggling

    Thai custom officials display seized elephant tusks smuggled into Thailand from Kenya during press conference at customs Headquarter in Bangkok on Friday April 1.2011.The Thai Customs Department has seized a large shipment of illicit African ivory falsely labeled as frozen sardine, officials said Friday.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
  • Ukraine Babies Smuggled

    In this Monday, March 21, 2011 photo, provided by Ukrainian Border Guard Press Service, two babies are shown sleeping in a wooden coffer under a bed in a trailer, at the checkpoint in Luzhanka, Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities have detained a French family who tried to smuggle two 2-month-old infants hidden under a mattress in a van into Europe. Border Guard spokesman Eduard Steblyuk said Thursday that a 38-year-old French medic and his 66-year-old father placed the twin girls in a coffer under the mattress as they tried to cross the Ukrainian-Hungarian border on Monday. (AP Photo/Border Guard Press Service)
  • Smuggled Songbirds

    This undated photo provided by the Department of Justice shows detained suspect Sony Dong, with songbirds strapped to his legs at Los Angeles International Airport. Dong has been sentenced to four months in prison. Dong of Garden Grove was also ordered Monday to pay $4,000 in restitution to federal authorities caring for the birds. (AP Photo/Department of Justice)
  • Brazil Smuggled Birds

    Dead canaries are seen at Sao Paulo International airport, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008. Brazilian officials said a Portuguese man was arrested trying to smuggle 200 wild Peruvian canaries through the airport, and that the birds were found cooped up in four cages inside two suitcases. Sixty-five were dead due to suffocation or dehydration. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
  • SMUGGLED SQUIRRELS

    One of three ground squirrels seized Tuesday by a California man crossing into the United States at Santa Teresa, N.M., port-of-entry is shown in a cage at wildlife rehabilitator Josie Karam's Gray Panther Rehab center on Friday Dec. 16, 2005 in El Paso, Texas. The squirrels were confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers after they were discovered tucked in the coat pockets of a 19-year-old California man who was attempting to smuggle them into the country, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Roger Maier said. (AP Photo/El Paso Times, Victor Calzada)
  • Thailand Wildlife Trafficking

    Mud turtles crawl inside a basket as they are shown to the press during a news conference by Thai customs in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, June 2, 2011. Thai customs authorities say 431 turtles and other rare reptiles were stuffed into four suitcases and smuggled into the Bangkok airport. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

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