U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Calexico West port of entry seized three baby spider monkeys concealed within animal carriers inside of a vehicle on Monday.
On the morning of August 14, CBP officers encountered a 29-year-old female and a 31-year-old male driving a 2020 van. At the time of encounter, the man and woman were applying for entry into the United States from Mexico. During an initial inspection, a CBP officer discovered an animal carrier hidden behind the rear seat that contained live monkeys. The CBP officer referred the occupants and vehicle to secondary for further examination.
CBP officers discovered a total of three live, baby spider monkeys. The officers seized the monkeys and placed them in a safe and secure area where they will remain quarantined by U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services until they are rehomed.
“Illegal smuggling of endangered species, such as spider monkeys, poses a grave threat to the ecosystem,” stated Roque Caza, Area Port Director for Calexico. “CBP will continue to stop individuals involved in the unlawful, commercial trafficking and smuggling of wildlife.”
CBP officers detained the occupants of the vehicle and turned them over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations and Fish and Wildlife Services for further processing.
At the end of July, Fort Brown Station Border Patrol Agents made a surprising discovery when an arrest resulted in the rescue of seven spider monkeys being smuggled into the United States in a Mexican juvenile migrant’s backpack.
And in January 2022, four live spider monkeys were intercepted by CBP officers and agriculture specialists at Progreso International Bridge. The female driver, a U.S. citizen, had hidden them in a bag. Those particular spider monkeys were returned to Mexico.
Spider monkeys are considered New World monkeys which are found in tropical forests of Central and South America, including southern Mexico and are considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Fetching up to around $10,000 in the lucrative illegal pet trade, spider monkeys do not make good pets. Unfortunately some states do not prohibit ownership, even without a license.