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Titi monkeys: Man arrested in Mexico carrying 18 monkeys in his girdle

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Public Safety Department/AP

(Read caption) A man was caught attempting to smuggle 18 titi monkeys, including this one, through Mexico City's international airport Monday. He hid the tiny monkeys in a girdle under his T-shirt, say authorities.

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"Excuse me, sir, but what is that odd bulge under your clothing?" the airport security guard might have asked.

"Bulge?" the nervous passenger, one Roberto Cabrera, might have replied.

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Was he stifling the urge to scratch wildly?

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 "Oh thaaaat," he might have replied, glancing at the moving lumps.

Security guards at Mexico's Benito Juarez International Airport have probably seen it all. Or at least they thought they had. After all, Mexico is on perpetual alert for anyone smuggling contraband into the country, which, with its brutal drug war, has become the new Colombia. And for years now, wildlife smugglers have used some of the same routes used by narcotraffickers.

We don't know what the guards or Mr. Cabrera actually said. But what the guards found were 18 six-inch endangered titi monkeys from socks tucked into Mr. Cabrera's girdle! He'd attempted to smuggle them to Mexico from Peru. Two of the tiny critters actually died en route, and the facts are true. 

Cabrera, a Mexican national, reportedly told officials that he bought the titi monkeys for $30 in Peru as pets and hid them in his clothing "to protect them from the X-rays."


He's been charged with smuggling endangered animals that can fetch more than $1,000 a piece on the black market in Mexico.

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Cabrera's girdle smuggling suit is reminiscent of a Norwegian smuggler caught last year with 14 snakes and 10 lizards taped to his body and highlights the growing problem of endangered animal smuggling in Latin America.