Thursday, November 20 (UPI) — On Sunday, officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that a lady from Texas had pled guilty to smuggling a spider monkey in a box that she had claimed contained alcohol.․․
Officials claimed in a statement that on March 21 Savannah Nicole Valdez, 20, was apprehended at the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas, while trying to enter the United States with the primate.
She told the border patrol agents that the beer was in a wooden box with holes in it that she had purchased in Mexico.
When police saw the spider monkey inside the package, they told her to pull over for a closer look.
Valdez allegedly ignored them and sped off, blowing a red light and “almost colliding with officers and other vehicles,” as reported by authorities.
Her number was later located in online classified listings for a spider monkey.
On March 28th, Valdez surrendered to authorities after being charged with failing to declare and invoice animals upon entry into the United States and evading an immigration checkpoint on November 2nd.․․
“Safely living” is how officials describe the monkey’s current situation at a Florida animal refuge.
If found guilty, Valdez could receive a sentence of up to twenty years in jail and a fine of up to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in January 2023.
“Smuggling in endangered species for economic benefit is a terrible crime against nature’s valuable resources,” said Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio.
Whenever possible, HSI collaborates with other organizations on a governmental, private, and international level to disseminate information and teach practices that can help save endangered and threatened species.