A man was busted at JFK with 35 live finches stuffed inside hair curlers
US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
A man was caught at JFK Airport for allegedly trying to smuggle in 35 live finches from Guyana.
Stuffed inside plastic hair curlers and concealed inside his clothes, Kevin Andre McKenzie is the latest individual caught in a would-be songbird smuggle.
CBP agents discovered the finches inside the curlers after McKenzie deplaned from a JetBlue flight originating in Georgetown, Guyana. The hair-accessory method is often used by smugglers to transport the favored birds, which are supposedly used in high-stakes singing contests, popular throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York, the hair curlers were covered with a mesh cloth, and concealed inside McKenzie’s jacket and pants.
Authorities said McKenzie was charged with the illegal importation of wildlife. He was released on a $25,000 bond and faces up to 20 years in prison.
In 2018, a man tried to smuggle 70 finches hidden in orange hair curlers inside a black duffle bag. A year later, a man from Connecticut was busted for allegedly smuggling 34 live finches inside plastic hair curlers aboard a Guyana-to-JFK flight.
Federal officials said most golden-voiced finches are worth more than $5,000. Although finches can be found in the U.S., the Guyanese variety is more desired.
“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,” the complaint states. “A finch who wins these competitions becomes valuable and can sell for more than $10,000.”