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Man Jailed for Smuggling Monkeys in Pants

Dec 20, 10:35 am ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Customs officials opened his suitcase and a bird of paradise flew out but that was nothing compared to what they found in his pants -- a pair of pygmy monkeys.

Californian Robert Cusack has been sentenced to 57 days in jail for trying to smuggle the monkeys, a total of four exotic birds and 50 rare orchids into Los Angeles Airport after a trip to Thailand, officials said on Thursday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns said Cusack had been undergoing a routine inspection when he arrived last June until an official opened his suitcase.

"It became non-routine when they opened his luggage and a bird of paradise took off flying in the terminal," Johns said.

Johns said the agents found three more birds in his bag, tucked into nylon stockings, along with 50 orchids of a threatened species.

Asked by agents if he had anything else to tell them, Cusack responded: "Yes, I've got monkeys in my pants."

Though Cusack told authorities that he was a concerned environmentalist who had purchased the animals in Jakarta, Indonesia and was taking them to a Costa Rica wildlife sanctuary. He was arrested on smuggling charges.

Johns said that because the monkeys are listed as a threatened and endangered species in the United States, they cannot be brought into the country without special permits that are typically granted to zoos and not individuals.

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2002

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