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Monkey smuggler arrested in Mexico

One of the 18 monkeys seized by enforcement officers in MexicoMexico, 20 July 2010—Enforcement officers in Mexico have arrested a man attempting to smuggle 18 monkeys from Peru into the country.

The animals were wrapped inside socks that had been concealed inside his luggage, although the suspect told officers he had later hidden them in a girdle around his waist to protect the animals from X-rays.

The suspect was stopped during a random check at Mexico City’s airport after arriving from Lima when officers noted he was behaving “nervously.”

After searching him, the officers discovered the monkeys, two of them already dead.

They included 15 Pygmy Marmosets Cebuella pygmaea, 2 Black Mantle Tamarins Saguinus nigricollis and a Goeldi’s Monkey Callimico goeldii. The latter is classified as Vulnerable by IUCN, meaning it is at risk of global extinction, although all monkey species are listed in the Appendices of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which restricts or prohibits their international commercial trade.

“Exotic wildlife from Latin America is in high demand as pets and the profits involved are a strong incentive to smuggle—but it’s often only the obvious attempts like this one that are detected,” said Mexico-based Adrian Reuter of TRAFFIC North America.

“Mexico is a major wildlife trafficking gateway for precious species from Latin America, some northwards into the United States but also to markets in Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia.”

The seizure came just days after TRAFFIC and Mexico’s Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) had signed an agreement to combat illicit wildlife trafficking in Mexico.

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