Accused Smuggler of Endangered Asian Songbirds Faces Trial

Nearly all of the birds died in transit

A July 18 trial date was set Thursday for a Fountain Valley man accused of illegally bringing 93 Asian songbirds on a flight from Vietnam — most of which died in transit or soon after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport.

Kurtis Law, 49, who also maintains a home in Vietnam, allegedly attempted to smuggle the tiny birds into the country on March 24. According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, investigators who searched Law's luggage found several species of protected songbirds covered under the federal Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The complaint alleges that the birds were placed in Law's suitcases in a way "that allowed each bird little or no movement," and all but eight of the 93 birds ultimately died.

The protected birds found in Law's luggage were Bali myna, Chinese hwamei, red-billed leiothrix and silver-eared mesia, authorities said. Such birds cost less than $30 in Vietnam but fetch up to $400 each at Chinese markets in Southern California. The colorful songbirds are sold to collectors and exhibitors in the United States and are thought to bring good luck in certain communities.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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