Man Sentenced for Smuggling Songbirds in His Pants

By Kamika Dunlap on June 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Sony Dong gave new meaning to the children's song lyrics "Mister bluebird's on my shoulder" when he smuggled songbirds into the United States by hiding them in his pants. 

Dong, 46, hid the birds by attaching them to his calves underneath his pants on his flight back from Vietnam. He was charged and sentenced to four months in prison, the Associated Press reports.

Officials said 14 live birds were found attached to pieces of cloth wrapped around his legs.

He was apprehended by customs agents at Los Angeles International Airport after they noticed the telltale droppings on his socks and feathers sticking out from under his pants.

In 2008, Dong was under investigation after customs agents found an abandoned piece of luggage that contained 18 birds that he had checked in while boarding a flight to Vietnam.

Sony Dong was ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution to federal authorities who are caring for the birds.

In addition, he reportedly pleaded guilty to the charge of illegally importing wildlife.

As previously discussed, federal law requires travelers to declare items brought into the United States from abroad, including wildlife. Concealing the illegal import of wildlife into the United States (smuggling) is a felony.

There are several agencies that oversee the legal importation of exotic animals including:

  • The CDC oversees human health and the quarantine of imported monkeys.
  • The Department of the Agriculture  oversees livestock health and quarantines live birds and wild cud chewing animals.
  • The Fish and Wildlife Service checks for the smuggling and enforces the laws concerning endangered species and exotic animals.

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