SAN DIEGO — Two toucans were discovered during a vehicle inspection at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry on Dec. 26, US Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday.

The incident occurred around 4 p.m. when a CBP officer encountered two travelers, a 35-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman, in a 2015 Toyota Camry who were applying for entry, CBP said. The officer referred the vehicle for further inspection.

During the examination, CBP said an agriculture specialist found two live birds, later identified as toucans, wrapped in stocking, and concealed inside a purse.

Both of the travelers were detained in the smuggling attempt and turned over to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigators and Fish and Wildlife Services for further processing.

The vehicle was also seized by CBP officers.

“Smuggling live animals, especially endangered species, is a serious offense and this significant seizure demonstrates the lengths a smuggler will go for their own financial gain,” said Jenifer De La O, CBP Director of Field Operations in San Diego. “Our officers and agriculture specialists work hard every day to stop these horrible acts and protect our wildlife species for future
generations to enjoy.”

Two toucans, an endangered species,
Two toucans, an endangered species, were seized during a vehicle inspection, said CBP. (Photo released by US Customs and Border Protection)

CBP said the toucans were placed in a secure and safe area. They will remain in quarantine for veterinarian examination and then officials will find proper placement for the birds.