Talk about monkey business.
A Texas woman entering the US told border officials the wooden box in her car was filled with beer. In reality, it was an endangered spider monkey she planned to sell.
The 20-year-old woman pleaded guilty to smuggling wildlife into the US without first declaring and invoicing it, and fleeing an immigration checkpoint, after a monthslong investigation, according to a news release from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
She attempted to enter the US from Mexico through the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas, on March 21, the release stated. Officers noticed a wooden box with holes inside her car, which she claimed contained beer she had bought in Mexico.
However, when officers opened the box, they discovered a live spider monkey. Officers then referred the woman to a second inspection, but she sped off instead.
Later that day, officers discovered online sales listings for the spider monkey with the woman’s phone number, according to the release.
The woman turned herself in on March 28, according to the release. The monkey was recovered and placed in an animal shelter in Central Florida.
The woman will be sentenced on January 25, 2023, the release noted.
“Smuggling in endangered species for commercial gain is a tragic crime against nature’s precious resources,” said Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge at Homeland Security Investigations San Antonio, in the release. “HSI takes every opportunity to join our federal, private sector and international partners to share our knowledge, experience and investigative techniques designed to protect and preserve threatened and endangered species.”
There are seven species of spider monkeys found across Central and South America, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Officials did not specify to which species the recovered spider monkey belonged.