Talk about monkey business.
A Texas woman who entered the U.S. has told border officials that a wooden crate in her car was filled with beer. In fact, what she was planning to sell was an endangered spider monkey.
The 20-year-old woman admitted to smuggling wild animals into the U.S. without prior declaration and invoice, and fled immigration checkpoints after a month-long investigation, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release. .
She attempted to enter the United States from Mexico on March 21 via the International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas, the release said. Police noticed a perforated wooden box inside her car, which she claimed contained beer she had purchased in Mexico.
However, when police opened the box, they found a live spider monkey. Officers then referred the woman to her for a second check, but she accelerated away.
Later that day, officials found listings for online sales of spider monkeys with the woman’s phone number, according to a news release.
The woman turned herself in on March 28, according to a news release. The monkey was found and housed at an animal shelter in central Florida.
The release states that the woman will be sentenced on January 25, 2023.
“The smuggling of endangered species for commercial gain is a tragic crime against nature’s precious resources,” San Antonio-based Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent Craig Raby said in a news release. “HSI seizes every opportunity to share our knowledge, experience and investigative techniques with our federal, private sector and international partners aimed at protecting and protecting threatened and endangered species.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund, seven species of spider monkeys are found in Central and South America. Officials did not specify which species the recovered spider monkey belonged to.