A Guyanese man living in CT man tried smuggling almost three dozen live finches from Guyana through JFK Airport so he could sell them for use in high-stakes bird-singing competitions in New York, according to the New York Post citing federal officials yesterday.
According to the complaint, finches are used in singing contests in Brooklyn and Queens and gamblers bet on which finch they think has the better voice. Each bird was hidden inside a plastic hair curler.
Gurahoo told prosecutors he planned to sell the suitcase of birds for about $100,000, at a going rate of about $3,000 for each bird, according to the complaint.
The U.S. Attorney's office says 39-year-old Francis Gurahoo was traveling into the United States from Guyana on Sunday.
During the singing contests, which are often held in public parks, two birds sing against each other after spectators place bets, and then a judge declares a victor, the special agent said. He's accused of violating federal rules that require animal importers to declare wildlife and get permits, as well as federal rules requiring imported commercial birds to be quarantined for a month.
"In such contests, often conducted in public areas like parks, two finches sing and a judge selects the bird determined to have the best voice", court documents said, according to PIX 11.
When a bird becomes a champion, its value can spike to over $5,000, prosecutors said.
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