Migrants charged with smuggling exotic birds to US soil — and drowning them when the Coast Guard closed in

A crew of heartless migrants are charged with smuggling exotic birds into Puerto Rico — and throwing greater than 100 overboard as the US Coast Guard closed in on them, federal prosecutors said this week.

The US Attorney’s Office mentioned 113 of the uncommon feathered treasures had been captured in the Dominican Republic and stashed in wood cages aboard a ship certain for US territory when the chicken nappers noticed authorities coming after them — and removed the proof.

The Coast Guard fished the our bodies out and laid them out on the deck, a heart-breaking picture reveals.

“The defendants violated laws protecting tropical birds and regulating the international sale and exportation of wildlife,” W. Stephen Muldrow, US Attorney for Puerto Rico, mentioned in an announcement.

Exotic birds drowned by smugglers.
The US Attorney’s Office mentioned 113 birds had been hurled into the sea by smugglers as the Coast Guard closed in on them. U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Puerto Rico

“When confronted by law enforcement, the defendants tried to cover up those crimes by killing the protected birds by throwing them into the sea while still in their wooden crates,” Muldrow mentioned.

The 4 Dominican nationals — Frankluis Carela De Jesus, Waner Balbuena, Juan Graviel Ramirez Cedano and Domingo Heureau-Altagracia — had been captured on the excessive seas on May 3 and named in a federal indictment unsealed on Thursday, prosecutors mentioned.

All 4 face up to 15 years in federal jail if convicted.

Heurreau-Altagracia was ordered to stay on house confinement whereas the different three migrants had been ordered held with out bail pending trial, the US Attorney’s Office mentioned.

The ship with the stolen wildlife was 30 nautical miles off the northern coast of Puerto Rico when stopped.

Exotic birds in wooden cages.
Prosecutors mentioned 4 Dominican nationals face up to 15 years in jail if convicted of the smuggling of the exotic birds. U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Puerto Rico

“Their decision to recklessly jettison smuggled birds and other evidence from their vessel resulted in the death of numerous exotic birds,” mentioned Edward Grace, assistant director of legislation enforcement for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This case underscores the cruel reality of the illegal wildlife trade and our commitment to vigorously pursue those engaged in wildlife trafficking,” Grace mentioned in the assertion.

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