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Border Patrol officers discover 4 undeclared spider monkeys in duffle bag

The monkeys were discovered at the Progreso International Bridge in Progreso, Texas.
Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Undeclared spider monkeys intercepted by CBP officers and agriculture specialists at Progreso International Bridge. Photo courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

PROGRESO, Texas — Border protection officers and agriculture specialists at a bridge on the Texas-Mexico border made an unusual discovery at the end of 2021: four undeclared spider monkeys concealed inside a duffle bag.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), on Dec. 30, a 20-year-old U.S. citizen arrived at the Progreso International Bridge in Progreso, Texas, and a CBP officer referred her for further inspection. Officers conducting the second inspection discovered four spider monkeys hidden inside a duffle bag. 

Working together with CBP agriculture specialists, the officers cautiously removed the monkeys from the bag, placing them in an animal container.

The CBP Office of Field Operations contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The USFWS identified the animals as spider monkeys, which are found in the tropical forests of Central and South America, including southern Mexico. The monkeys are considered endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

"While conducting their inspections, our officers will often encounter a myriad of prohibited agriculture products," said Port Director Walter Weaver of the Port of Progreso. "Sometimes these encounters yield hidden exotic animals, such as in this case."

The woman transporting the monkeys was issued a penalty by CBP. The monkeys were returned to Mexico.

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