Couple Arrested For Using Elmo Doll To Smuggle 2 Parrots Across U.S.-Mexico Border

This Tickle Me Elmo doesn't giggle. It chirps.

In one of the most bird-brained smuggling operations ever, a California couple was arrested after attempting to smuggle two live parrots into the U.S. from Mexico by hiding them inside an Elmo doll.

Customs and Border Protection officials say agriculture specialists found the birds on July 1 after cutting open the doll when an X-ray revealed something unusual about its contents.

The seized birds were placed in quarantine and transferred to a Department of Agriculture holding facility. The couple was fined $300.

The border agency says birds entering the country are regulated because they can carry viral and bacterial diseases.

While most cases of smuggling on the U.S.-Mexico border deal with drug and human trafficking, animals – dead or alive – are also frequent victims of illegal border crossings across the globe.

In 2013, at the Russian border, 213 bear paws were confiscated en route to China where they are considered a delicacy. Later that year the head of a polar bear was found by customs officers en route from Norway to Germany.

Besides these dead furry animals, Australian agents once snagged a guy trying to transport live pigeons in his pants and a woman on a flight from Singapore tried to sneak 51 live tropical fish in a special skirt.

Earlier this week, U.S. Customs and Border protection inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport seized 67 live giant African snails meant for human consumption.

Officials said the mollusks are among the largest land snails in the world and can grow to be up to 8 inches long. They are native to Africa and can live for up to 10 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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