‘Bird brain’ held at JFK with 9 finches up his sleeve

‘Bird brain’ held at JFK with 9 finches up his sleeve

Stabroek News – CSpringer – Editor On June 27, 2012

(New York Daily News) A Guyanese man was nabbed at Kennedy Airport with something singing up his sleeve — nine live finches bound for their shot at stardom.

Marlon Hariram is the latest bird-brained trying to evade Guyana’s laws prohibiting the exportation of the little songbirds. Authorities said the finches were likely going to be used in singing contests held in public parks in Queens.

“Two finches sing, and a judge selects the bird determined to have the best voice,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Ryan Bessey explained in court papers released Monday. 

“A finch who wins many competitions becomes quite valuable, and can sell in excess of $5,000,” he added.
Finches with a pedigree from Guyana supposedly sing better than their American counterparts and are “more highly sought after,” Bessey said.

Hariram, 30, was pinched this week with the finches during a routine examination by Customs and Border Protection agents. The bird man had flown to New York on an Easy Jet flight from Georgetown — Guyana’s capital and largest city.

He checked the “No” box on a form indicating that he was not bringing any animals or wildlife into the country, but that claim quickly unraveled when the officer found the birds tucked in the flier’s shirt sleeve.

The birds were each packaged in cardboard toilet paper rolls, covered with netting and packaging tape, according to the complaint.

The agent noted in the complaint that Hariram has been fined previously in 2005 and 2011 for smuggling live finches into the U.S. Not allowed to fly the coop, Hariram is scheduled for a bail hearing on Wednesday.
The Wild Birds Protection Act of Guyana is enforced, in part, to require the quarantine of birds from foreign countries to prevent the spread of potentially deadly diseases.

Also read this New York Times article published on April 15, 2009 :

Trafficking in Contraband That Sings

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  • DMITRI ALLICOCK  On June 29, 2012 at 12:35 am

    On a more serious note, maybe a little time in the cage will serve as a good lesson for this creative but embarrassment to all Guyanese. “Bird brain” and “jail bird” seems appropriate enough. No toilet paper rollers just “soap on a rope” will do.

  • Cyril Balkaran  On June 29, 2012 at 6:50 am

    There will always be some idiots who will attempt to circumvent the law. This particular man is 30 years of age and at 25 he did the same thing. What should be the verdict on him. Those who refuse to learn from their own mistakes must certainly be punished. He is a second time offender. Over to the courts of new York! Judgement day has come for Hariram! You have no excuse nor clemency.

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