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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Man sentenced for smuggling 6 endangered tropical birds into Derby Line from Quebec

DERBY LINE — A 40-year-old man from Pennsylvania was sentenced after pleading guilty to smuggling tropical birds into Vermont.

Jafet Rodriguez, 40, of Hazleton, was sentenced to a two-year term of federal supervised release.

Rodriguez previously pled guilty to unlawfully smuggling six tropical birds into Vermont from Canada, in violation of the Endangered Species Act and the federal anti-smuggling statute.

He was ordered to pay $1,905 to the government to cover the costs of quarantining the birds.

According to court documents, on December 30, 2019, Rodriguez walked across the Canadian border near the Haskell Free Library in Derby Line and approached a car parked in Stanstead, Quebec.

He retrieved a black duffle bag containing the six birds from the vehicle parked in Quebec and then walked back into the United States.

Border Patrol Agents intercepted Rodriquez after he entered another vehicle with Pennsylvania license plates in Derby Line.

The agents recovered the six tropical birds from this vehicle.

Rodriguez told law enforcement that he intended to give these birds to his mother and sister as Christmas gifts.

The government questioned the credibility of that claim pointing out that these birds were collectively worth at least $10,000 and the defendant had a history of profit-motivated crimes involving theft, fraud, and drug dealing.

According to court records, the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory determined that four of the birds were Yellow-headed Amazon Parrots and the remaining 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 that 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.

The birds were then transported to a zoo in North Carolina.

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