MONTPELIER, Vt. -- A Pennsylvania man has been charged with smuggling seven parrots into the United States by carrying them across the Quebec-Vermont border.
A federal court affidavit alleges that Jafet Rodriguez picked up the birds from a car parked in Canada outside the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which straddles the border, on Dec. 30 and then carried them across the border in Derby Line to a car in Vermont. Five of the birds were yellow headed Amazon parrots and the other two white-bellied parrots.
Rodriguez, 39, was charged Jan. 28, but the case was sealed until after his Monday arrest. He is due in court in Burlington on Thursday.
Rodriguez's lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The affidavit said that a surveillance camera showed a man cross into Canada, open the rear door of a car parked just across the border, retrieve a black bag and then cross back into the United States, where he was apprehended by Border Patrol agents.
In speaking with agents, Rodriguez said he had made arrangements with people in New York to buy the birds from someone in Canada. Rodriguez told agents he didn't know that he had crossed the border when he picked up the birds, but he said he had seen the border marker.
Rodriguez told the agents he had one of the birds with him in the United States, but because he didn't have documentation to prove it all the birds were seized, the affidavit said.
Trade in both of the species seized is covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, which provides a mechanism for the international trade in the covered species.
The affidavit says the treaty allows for the trade of yellow headed Amazons only for scientific and research purposes and then only with valid permits. Commercial trade in white bellied parrots is allowed, but only with strict regulation.
The seven birds were turned over to officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and placed in quarantine at the New York Animal Import Center in Rock Tavern, New York.