A Fountain Valley man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of smuggling 93 Asian songbirds — most of which died — from Vietnam to the Los Angeles International Airport, federal authorities said.
Kurtis Law, 49, who also lives in Vietnam, is facing a federal charge of smuggling goods into the U.S., according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Federal authorities said Law stuffed the songbirds into his luggage and boarded a flight from Vietnam on March 24. All but eight birds died during the flight or soon after Law arrived at LAX, authorities said.
According to the attorney’s office, the songbirds were “placed in Law’s suitcases in a way ‘that allowed each bird little or no movement.’”
Investigators discovered several of the songbirds were species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a multilateral treaty known at CITES, according to federal prosecutors.
The protected birds found in Law’s luggage were Bali myna, Chinese hwamei, red-billed leiothrix and silver-eared mesia, authorities said.