Woman Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Spider Monkey

Monkeys are best left in the wild. A Texas woman is in some hot water after she pleaded guilty to smuggling a spider monkey in a box that she claimed was carrying beer.

According to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials, Savannah Nicole Valdez was arrested when she tried to enter the United States through the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas, with the animal.

When she tried to cross the border in her vehicle, border security officials spotted a wooden box inside her car that had holes in it. The 20-year-old alleged that she had purchased a case of beer in Mexico and was bringing it home.

Officers chose to investigate and when they opened the box, they discovered a live spider monkey inside. Valdez was directed to pull over her vehicle and instead sped off, running a traffic light along the way. She also nearly collided “with officers and other vehicles” on the roadway.

Investigators later found online ads for the sale of a spider monkey with Valdez’s phone number listed. She eventually turned herself in and pleaded guilty to smuggling wildlife into the United States without first declaring and invoicing it and fleeing an immigration checkpoint. Valdez faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

As for the monkey, it was taken to an animal shelter in Florida. According to officials, the animal is now “safely living” at its new home.