DERBY LINE — Jafet Rodriguez, 39, of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, has been charged with unlawfully smuggling tropical birds into Vermont from Canada, in violation of the Endangered Species Act and the federal anti-smuggling statute.
Rodriguez appeared before United States Magistrate Judge John Conroy yesterday and was released on personal recognizance.
According to court documents, on December 30, 2019, at 10:30 a.m., Rodriguez walked across the Canadian border near the Haskell Free Library in Derby Line and approached a car parked in Stanstead, Quebec.
According to the Government’s allegations, the defendant retrieved a black duffle bag containing the birds from the vehicle parked in Quebec and then walked back into the United States.
United States Border Patrol Agents intercepted Rodriquez after he entered another vehicle with Pennsylvania license plates in Derby Line.
The agents recovered seven live tropical birds from this vehicle.
According to court records, the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory determined that five of the birds were Yellow-headed Amazons and two birds were White-bellied Parrots.
These birds are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, commonly referred to as “CITES”.
Under the Endangered Species Act, species which are protected under CITES cannot be imported without the appropriate permits.
The birds were turned over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and transported to the New York Animal Import Center in Rock Tavern, New York for a period of quarantine.
If he is convicted, Rodriguez faces a maximum possible term of imprisonment of 20 years under the statute prohibiting the unlawful smuggling of merchandise into the United States.