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Two Orange County men indicted in songbird-smuggling case

Sony Dong was caught with 14 birds in his pants One might say the two Orange County men indicted today on bird-smuggling charges were caught with their pants down.  

When one of them was apprehended at LAX after arriving on a flight from Hanoi, authorities found -- get this -- fourteen birds hidden in his pants.  (It must have been hard to explain away the feathers and bird droppings visible on his socks.)  Our colleague Scott Glover at the L.A. Now blog has the details:

Duc Le, 34, and Sony Dong, 46, are charged in an eight-count indictment with conspiring to smuggle dozens of birds into the United States, including red-whiskered bulbuls, magpie robins and shama thrushes.

Both men were arrested last month after investigators determined that Dong had 14 birds fastened to pieces of cloth around his calves, said Asst. U.S. Atty. Mark Williams. A subsequent search revealed dozens more illicit birds, officials said.

The bird species at the heart of the case against Le and Dong are apparently all Asian songbirds.  Each bird can fetch about $400 in the sordid black-market songbird trade, according to MyFoxLA.  

All of the seized birds are reportedly in quarantine.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo:  The bird-smuggling suspect's legs. Credit:  U.S. attorney's office.

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It was crazy to release those foreigners on bond when they face serious prison time. They're already on their way back to Vietnam, most likely.

Hey Dana,

If those two men are from Orange County, how can they be foreigners? And why would they be on their way back to Vietnam if they're from Orange County?

Redundant questions, yes, but it doesn't seem like you fully read or understood the report.

What happened to the songbirds. Were the released into the wild after being released from quarantine or were they sold to the zoos. Did they report how many birds, what type of song birds.
How would police be tipped off if nobody had checked these men (while going through detector) in Hanoi airport. The guys did tape these poor sweet adorable hostages and tied them with what looks like handkerchiefs...but did they not as much think about covering them with tiny diapers as well. What about separation anxiety for the birds, shock & lack of love. Who is now protecting these tiny songbirds for all their shock from being cleverly plucked from their homes in the nature, forests of the region they smuggled them from. How terrible, SONGBIRDS have become hostages for so long........when are they all going to become free. From Chinese emperors to so many avid bird enthusiasts who love to create an artificial compoud instead of going to their respective abodes and listening to these God's creations with Love, Adoration, Longing & Respect.

I know all this sounds somewhat unheard of...,who would write such a commentary on the above plight....but these birds could be released into the wild or sent back with kind concern back to their homes in Hanoi.

The article doesn't say they were foreigners. Some people probably assume that from their names. But if they are US citizens, they should have their passports revoked and if they are not citizens they should be deported after serving their sentences.

They were caught because they had done something similar before and were on a list. Last time they had birds in a suitcase and many of them died.

The birds should NOT be released, they are classified as dangerous to humans and may also have the avian flu virus. We have also had lots of experience in introducing non-native plants, animals, fish, and snails into our environment and having them wipeout our native plants and animals. So a zoo is the best place for them.


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