Man caught at airport smuggling singing birds in his clothing

Thirty-five birds were found, stuffed inside hair rollers, hidden in the man's clothing.
Thirty-five birds were found, stuffed inside hair rollers, hidden in the man's clothing.(United States District Court Eastern District Of New York via CNN Newsource)
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 12:07 PM CDT
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NEW YORK (CNN) - A man from Guyana was arrested at a New York airport on Monday after he was caught smuggling nearly three dozen finches.

Officials say Customs and Border Protection officers pulled Kevin Andre McKenzie aside for an examination when his flight landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

During the examination, they found 35 birds, stuffed inside hair rollers, hidden in his clothing. The rollers were sealed with netting and then attached to the inside of McKenzie’s jacket and around his boots.

Thirty-five birds were found, stuffed inside hair rollers, hidden in the man's clothing.
Thirty-five birds were found, stuffed inside hair rollers, hidden in the man's clothing.(United States District Court Eastern District Of New York via CNN Newsource)

He said he’d been offered $3,000 to smuggle the birds into the United States.

He was charged with unlawfully importing the finches.

It’s not immediately clear if anyone else has been arrested in relation to the incident.

Thirty-five birds were found, stuffed inside hair rollers, hidden in the man's clothing.
Thirty-five birds were found, stuffed inside hair rollers, hidden in the man's clothing.(United States District Court Eastern District Of New York via CNN Newsource)

According to an investigation, birds like these are often entered in “singing contests” in the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods of New York.

People place bets on which bird has the best voice and a judge selects the winner.

A winning finch can sell for more than $10,000. Finches from Guyana are believed to sing better and therefore are considered more valuable.

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