MIAMI – (CBS4) – A man and his daughter who authorities say attempted to smuggle 72 pigeon eggs from Cuba with plans of selling them at his Miami pet store pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally importing wildlife.
Authorities say Rufino Blanco, 47, and his 21-year-old daughter Claribel Blanco Cuellar, had smuggled the eggs through U.S. Customs at Miami International Airport without declaring them, making it a federal crime.
When questioned about the eggs on June 7, Blanco Cuellar said they were used for ceremonies in Santeria, but an investigation later revealed that the eggs were destined to go to his store El Morrillero at 9544 SW 40th St.
That’s where he sold pigeons to those interested in selling racing and homing pigeons, CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reported.
In order to sell the pigeons legally, Blanco would have needed an import/export license from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Officials say he never had a license and told investigators about his illegal imports.
The pair will be sentenced on March 3rd and face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.