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A man arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Sunday was allegedly trying to smuggle 34 finches into the country so the birds could compete in singing contests.
Connecticut man Francis Gurahoo, 39, was allegedly caught trying to smuggle the birds in 34 plastic hair curlers in a piece of carry-on luggage following a trip to Guyana, according to a complaint filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, obtained by Oxygen.com.
Gabriel Harper, a special agent with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote in the complaint individuals keep finches to enter them in singing contests in Brooklyn and Queens, New York. 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.
He added that people who attend such contests often bet on the birds. Such contests apparently can pay a pretty penny.
“A finch who wins these competitions becomes valuable and can sell for in excess of $5,000,” Harper wrote, adding that “species from Guyana are believed to sing better and are therefore more highly sought after.”
He wrote anyone who succeeds in smuggling singing birds from Guyana to the United States can “earn a large profit by selling these birds in the New York area.”
Gurahoo allegedly admitted to smuggling the small birds and planning to sell all the finches for a total of approximately $100,000, according to the complaint.
He’s scheduled to appear in court Monday. It's not clear what charges Gurahoo will face.
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