Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bye-bye birdie

OK, I don't know if this story is all that great, but I do know that the main photo that comes with this story is absolutely spectacular. Where to begin? Where to begin?

I guess the best place to start would be with the smoky folks over there at
The Smoking Gun. They bring us the story of two California men, a one Sony Dong (nice name) and a one Duc Le (not quite as pretty sounded as Sony Dong, but a fine name) who were indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy, with Le also earning charges of making false statements to the US Fish & Wildlife Service (never lie to Fish & Wildlife! It will always come back to haunt you. THey don't mess around when it comes to the fish, not to mention the wildlife.) and Dong being charged with multiple counts of importing goods by means of a false statement. All charges stemmed from the allegedly smuggling of Asian songbirds, apparently from Vietnam, into the United States.

OK, bird smuggling. An odd way to make a living, I'm thinking, but I suppose you find your niche in life and you go with it. Preferably you're going to want to go with it better than these guys did as to not get arrested and face between 10 to 28 years in Federal prison, but you do want to hone your talents. I don't know, I guess when I hear 'smuggling', I think drugs. I don't hear 'smuggling' and think Tweetybird. Though I don't remember Tweetybird being Asian. He did have a unusual speech pattern, though, so maybe he was.

Here's the point: If you're smuggling birds from Vietnam to the United States and you're flying here, you have to have some place to conceal the birds. And on the alleged flight that the alleged birds were allegedly smuggled on, there were allegedly 32 of said concealed birds. In case you are unfamiliar with the number to bird ratio of quantity measure, 32 birds is a lot of birds.

Here comes the math. 18 of said birds were allegedly in a suitcase. 5 of those birds ended up dying. Quite frankly, I'm surprised any of them managed to survive a flight from Vietnam to the United States in an airplane cargo hull enclosed inside of a suitcase. But wait. We're still fourteen birds short. If they weren't in the suitcase, then where were they?

I'll show you where they were. Behold!

Oh, what the hell is that?! That would be a photo of the man's legs and what would appear to be his bird smuggling support hose. According to The Smoking Gun, Customs and Border Protection stopped the man at LAX and when they "inspected Dong and "found bird feathers and droppings on his socks, as well as birds' tail feathers visible under his pants." " Ewww! Ewww, but DUH! Feathers and poop on his socks?!

The CBP agents, upon further investigation and pantleg lifting, discovered "14 live birds attached to two flat pieces of cloth that were wrapped around his calves. The birds each appear to have been placed in sleeves that were hooked on to the cloth around Dong's legs." Yes! That is exactly what it appears is going on there! I know that they have to be thorough for the reports and for accuracy and to ensure that evidence is presented fairly at any trial that may occur, but my God, sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words (even if most of those words are "Holy crap!"

In case you were wondering, "The birds included three red-whiskered bul-buls (which is listed as an injurious species under federal law), four magpie robins and six shama thrush." " So there you have it! Me, I know what none of those birds look like or ARE, for that matter.

The part that surprises me the most? I'm not so sure that it's the fact he has 14 live birds strapped to his legs. Sure, that's surprising, but I don't think that it's more surprising than the fact that he was able to BOARD THE PLANE in Vietnam in the first place! And if you think I"m impressed that they caught the guy at LAX, I'm not! As the press release statement says that when a search warrant of Le's residence was executed, they found 70 large birdcages and 51 Asian songbirds. Dong said that the birds were purchased for about $50 apiece and that they resold them in the US for around $300-$400 apiece. So obviously, they had done this BEFORE and it worked!!

Grand! Here's the picture that we've painted. We've got a guy from Vietnam getting on a plane. He has 14 SONGbirds strapped to his legs and there are "feathers and droppings on his socks, as well as birds' tail feathers visible under his pants." I can't imagine that the SONGbirds were not want to burst into song at some point during this little caper. But aside from that, feathers out the pants, droppings on the socks, birds on the legs, so SO many clues and yet, apparently, it was working for them!

So, tell me again why in the hell I'm taking off my shoes when I'm getting ready to fly somewhere? It's obviously not to check for songbird droppings on my socks because if it WAS then those guys never would have managed to pull this off AT LEAST ONCE BEFORE!

Man, I feel safer already. Oh, wait. That's right. I don't.

And thanks to The Daily Telegraph, we have photos of other people smuggling a variety of things into a variety of countries. Here's a guy with two live pigeons taped to his legs (there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.):

You know, you really have to assume that they don't let anyone who doesn't know what's going on in the room when they're taking these pictures. Imagine if someone walked in on something like that. There's a guy standing there wearing socks and no shoes with his pants pulled down around his ankles and a bunch of pigeons taped to his legs! If you could muster up the strength to backpedal out of the room, you've probably just run off shouting, "My eyes! My EYES!"

Above is what is known as an 'egg smuggling vest'. It works just like it looks like it would work. There are little pouches on the vest and you put eggs of some kind of creature in there and then you wear it on the plane. (I'm assuming they do this by plane. I'm not imagining this for smuggling via boat.) If anyone asks, you just tell them that you have abs of steel and try to look inconspicuous when you say that.

Here are the eggs that are inside of the vest. These smugglers pay rapt attention to detail, as each egg is clearly labled. I enjoy a tidy egg smuggling vest.

Here is a woman wearing an apron that was constructured to smuggle tropical fish into the country. Did she really think that no one was going to notice that? She's like a human prize rack at a carnival.

Need to smuggle just a few eggs or even just a few more eggs into the country? Run out of room in your egg smuggling vest? Then the egg smuggling underwear are just the thing for you! Behold!

What about other animals, you ask? What about reptiles? Do they smuggle reptiles into the country in the same way that they smuggle birds? No. Not quite. Below is the picture of a snake inside of a ceramic garden gnome to be smuggled into the country. It's really the sort of image that can get you thinking. Or just keep you up all night. I think it's the latter.

You're really going to have to be more creative than whoever the guy was that just crammed some pythons into a suitcase and went happily to the airport. Too bad all of that luggage screening and x-raying got in the way there.

Or this guy who just went with the ol' standby "Frog In A Tube".

And it's cousin, "Bird In A Tube."

I'll tell you this much. After seeing all of these various ways folks try to smuggle animals into this country, if those people would put all of this energy and effort toward a legitimate business, I can guarantee they'd do just fine. AND they wouldn't run the risk of getting arrested and thrown into Federal prison for 10+ years. But that's just me apparently, as these guys don't seem to have any intention of not doing this.

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grannyann said...

That's so funny. What will people think of next? You have to admit it took some thought.

Mare said...

Oh, these folks have an abundance of creativity! No doubt about that!

~ M