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Two arrested as police find toucans in luggage 

PAGE 17 TWO

Police have arrested two air passengers for trying to smuggle 120 birds, including seven endangered toucans, in their suitcases.

At least 50 of them were dead due to the conditions they had to endure on a flight from Mexico into Spain.

The strange contents were discovered at Madrid airport after customs officers scanned the luggage of the two men and became suspicious about the contents.

Once opened, the two suitcases were found to contain home-made cages with the 120 birds inside.

“They were of different species and included seven toucans,” said a police spokesman. “Each one of these was worth around 7,000 euros on the illegal market.”

The Spanish Civil Guard had been tracking the movements of the two passengers because of the number of flights they were taking from Mexico to Spain over a short period of time.

Illegal trafficking in wildlife, particularly birds, is rife and is described as “one of the worst threats to wildlife around the world.”

Police said more than a third of the birds had died on the journey because of the lack of oxygen.