Flight pas­sen­ger may face charges for some real mon­key busi­ness

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Au­drey Hud­son

An air­line pas­sen­ger with a mar­moset tucked un­der his hat may face crim­i­nal charges of smug­gling the mon­key into the United States from Peru in vi­o­la­tion of health laws and an in­ter­na­tional treaty.

The pas­sen­ger got away with the mon­key busi­ness on his first flight aboard Spirit Air­lines into Fort Laud­erdale, Fla., on Aug. 7. It wasn’t un­til the mar­moset be­gan mon­key­ing around on the male pas­sen­ger’s pony­tail dur­ing the trip to LaGuardia In­ter­na­tional Air­port in New York that the hitch­hiker was ex­posed.

“For­tu­nately, it was not a se­cu­rity is­sue, and nei­ther of them posed a threat to avi­a­tion,” said Chris White, spokesman for the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, who re­ferred fur­ther ques­tions to Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion (CBP).

A spokesman there said that the pas­sen­ger did not de­clare the mon­key be­fore en­ter­ing the coun­try and that fines and penal­ties may be as­signed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We don’t know the full de­tails of the hat trick,” said Zachary Mann, spokesman and spe­cial agent for the CBP. “We don’t know if the mon­key was asleep in a rat’s nest of hair un­der the [pas­sen­ger’s] hat or if it was drugged.”

Sandy Cleva, spokes­woman for the wildlife ser­vice, said that the mar­moset is pro­tected un­der the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade and En­dan­gered Species and that a per­mit is re­quired for im­por­ta­tion to a zoo or re­search fa­cil­ity.

“You can­not im­port a live pri- mate for a per­sonal pet and that is a pub­lic-health law, that is an out­right pro­hi­bi­tion,” said Miss Cleva.

Of­fi­cials are in­ves­ti­gat­ing to see whether wildlife charges are war­ranted, said Miss Cleva, adding that the mon­key will be held in quar­an­tine un­til tests de­ter­mine whether it is car­ry­ing any dis­eases.

Alison Rus­sell, spokes­woman for Spirit Air­lines, said the “mon­key be­came vis­i­ble from un­der­neath the hat dur­ing the flight.”

“When he came out from un­der the hat, he started cling­ing to the pas­sen­ger’s pony­tail,” Miss Rus­sell said.

One gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said a nearby pas­sen­ger asked the man whether he was aware that there was a mon­key on his head.

“Ap­par­ently, he is a very tiny mon­key,” Miss Rus­sell said.

The flight crew re­ported the in­ci­dent to the ground crew, and the pas­sen­ger and his mon­key were greeted by of­fi­cials from the Port Author­ity of New York and New Jer­sey, de­tained and ques­tioned.

Miss Rus­sell said the air­line is co­op­er­at­ing with the gov­ern­ment agen­cies in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and re­ferred other ques­tions to the Port Author­ity, which did not re­turn a call for com­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.