Photos show that some of the birds that were stuffed in a suitcase and survived the flight from Vietnam but 85 didn't survive.
Federal agents arrested 49-year-old Kurtis Law, of Fountain Valley, Calif. He's accused of violating an international treaty that aims to ensure the trade of wild animals and plants doesn't threaten their survival.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the felony charge.
Law arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on a March 24 flight. As his bags were being scanned by X-ray, officers discovered the dozens of dead and dying birds.
Officers immediately seized the birds and placed them into quarantine. Fifty were dead on arrival. After the initial seizure, only eight of the birds survived, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Once the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that among the birds were several legally protected endangered species.
"Importing certain illegal wildlife, such as these avian species, can not only introduce communicable animal diseases into the United States, but they can also pose a threat to our local ecosystem," said Jill Birchell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent in charge.
The complaint alleges that the birds were placed in Law's suitcases in a way "that allowed each bird little or no movement."
Law was released on bond Tuesday. His next scheduled court appearance is June 5. null