A man has been arrested in Cuba – for attempting to board a flight to America with 66 birds sewn inside his trousers.
The bird man was seized at Ignacio Agramonte International Airport in the Cuban city of Camaguay and was picked up because of the curious bulges in his trousers.
After being stopped by customs, the man bizarrely claimed he was only concealing a pigeon as a gift for his grandson.
But after he was forced to remove his trousers, officers found dozens of ‘frightened little finches and hummingbirds’ – some with their beaks sealed shut so they would not be heard singing.
All the birds were rare species and had probably been stolen to order for the equivalent of thousands of pounds, police said.
The smuggler nearly made it on to the aircraft after a metal detector failed to pick up his feathered contraband.
But because of the unusual bulges, and the slow way in which he was walking, a customs officer Hermogenes Yonsiver decided to take him into an inspection room for a body search.
‘As soon as he knew the game was up he tried to lie his way out of it and say he was carrying a pigeon,’ said officer Yonsiver.
‘He said: “What I have here is a pigeon that is a gift for my grandson” but that too was a lie. He then wanted to continue on his way.
‘But he was forced to take down his trousers, and we found all these frightened little finches and hummingbirds, some of whom had their beaks sealed shut so that we wouldn’t hear their singing.’
Two of the birds stashed near his genitals were dead when police ordered him to strip. Police say the man is still being questioned and faces up to two years in prison.
The trade in endangered species worldwide is climbing.
Two weeks ago in Germany a man was stopped at Frankfurt Airport en-route to Spain with 99 rare tortoises, lizards and snakes wrapped in sticky tape in his suitcase.