Orange County men sentenced for roles in bizarre songbird smuggling case


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Two Orange County men who pleaded guilty to charges relating to a bizarre 2009 case of songbird-smuggling received federal prison sentences Monday.

Sony Dong, 46, of Garden Grove, received a four-month sentence and was ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution for the care of birds that were seized from him.


Duc Le, 34, of Garden Grove, received a six-month sentence and was ordered to pay over $25,000 in restitution. Le was considered the ringleader of the smuggling operation.

Dong was apprehended last April after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Hanoi. Authorities found 14 birds strapped to his ankles. Bird droppings could be seen on his socks and the tips of feathers emerged from his pant legs.

A search of Dong’s property turned up 51 additional songbirds.

According to the Associated Press, he had been on authorities’ radar since they learned that an abandoned piece of luggage, found at LAX the previous December and containing 18 birds, had been checked by him on a flight from southeast Asia. Five of the birds found in the luggage were already dead.

The seized birds -- which included several red-whiskered bulbuls, which are considered an injurious species -- are still in quarantine and are expected to be transferred to zoos and other facilities equipped to care for them, the Associated Press reported.

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