Major Finch Smuggler Facing Jail Time in New York
A finch smuggler is facing a year and a day in prison after admitting to smuggling finches from Guyana into New York through John F. Kennedy Airport.
According to a report by Jennifer Peltz for the Associated Press, 62-year-old Insaf Ali is heading to prison after being sentenced to a year and a day on Thursday for admitting to smuggling finches from Guyana into New York. It's the second time Ali has been sentenced for a bird trafficking crime in New York.
Apparently, Ali intended to use the finches in songbird competitions which are a pastime in the Caribbean. It seems harmless enough, but finches can be worth thousands of dollars through the contests and the United States and countries in Latin America have been combatting the illegal wildlife trade. Prosecutors even referred to Ali as "one of New York's finch-smuggling kingpins."
Ali admitted that in January 2022, he conspired to import wildlife illegally after he was stopped at JFK airport with two packs of hair curlers, which are apparently commonly used to sneak small birds past customs officials. He was also arrested in 2018 when he was found with finch-filled hair curlers in his socks, which landed him two years' probation and a fine of $7,800.
The report also notes that finches stuffed into these hair curlers or other small items used to smuggle them can die while being transported or be carrying diseases that are unnatural to the animal populations here.
Ali's attorney argued that the crime was "fueled by a love of seed finches that dates to his childhood in Guyana and has provided him solace through many personal difficulties."