A Belgian man was arrested at Lima Airport in Peru on Monday for carrying 20 live birds stuffed in his suitcase.
Hugo Conings, aged 54, was caught trying to smuggle the birds out of the country in small cardboard boxes. Among the birds were two toucanets and 16 tanagers.
Officers said that he was planning to fly to Madrid, capital of Spain, to sell the protected species of birds. The birds are native to the Peruvian jungle and are also found in Ecuador and Bolivia.
Some of the birds showed signs of dehydration, stress, and had lost part of their plumage after spending hours in the boxes. Hugo now faces the risk of spending up to five years in prison for illegal wildlife trafficking.
Peru is home to more than 1,800 species of birds but illegal trafficking continues to threaten native species.