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Press Release

Ten People Charged for their Involvement in the Illegal Trafficking of Migratory Birds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

MIAMI – A federal magistrate judge has unsealed indictments brought against 10 defendants in 10 separate cases for their alleged involvement in the illegal trafficking of migratory birds under Operation Ornery Birds II.

The cases brought against the 10 defendants are:

United States v. Alain Armando Hernandez, case no. 22-cr-20535.

United States v. Daniel Hernandez Matos, case no. 22-cr-20536.

United States v. Alejandro Hernandez Valero, case no. 23-cr-20119.

United States v. Julio Cesar Santana Menduina, case no. 22-cr-20537.

United States v. Andres Hernandez Rivera, case no. 22-cr-20538.

United States v. Felix Yoan Diaz Montesinos, case no. 23-cr-20120.

United States v. Yoander Cruz Sardina, case no. 22-cr-20589.

United States v. Conrado Torres Aleman, case no. 23-cr-20121.

United States v. Armando Espino Gonzalez, case no. 22-cr-20590.

United States v. Onelio Rene Hernandez, Jr., case no. 22-cr-20591.

In 1918, Congress enacted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for the protection of migratory birds. Now in its 100th year, the MBTA prohibits, among other things, the pursuit, hunting, taking, capture, killing, possession, sale, barter, purchase, shipping, exportation, and importation of migratory birds. Migratory birds are listed at Title 50, Code of Federal Regulation, Section 10.13.

According to the indictments, the defendants acquired the protected wildlife through a variety of means, including the employment of baited bird traps spread throughout the region as collection points and the barter, purchase, and sale of specimens among like-minded individuals employing internet sales sites frequented by traffickers. They also unlawfully transported the captured wildlife between buyers and sellers across the country.

According to the allegations contained in the indictments, the various defendants offered to buy, sell, or barter a variety of MBTA protected birds, including specimens of Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea), Blue Grosbeaks (Passerina caerulea), Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (Pheucticus ludovicianus), Painted Buntings (Passerina ciris), Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), and Lazuli Buntings (Passerina amoena), all highly prized for their colorful plumage and singing abilities.

Federal agents from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recovered more than 500 illegal specimens from the defendants. After a determination that the release of the seized wildlife was safe and appropriate, the USFWS returned as many of the birds to the wild as possible. Some of the birds did not survive.

If convicted of the charges, the defendants each face a possible maximum statutory sentence of 2 years in prison for each count of trafficking migratory birds and criminal fines of up to $250,000 per count.  

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Director Edward Grace of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Office of Law Enforcement, acting Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Buckley of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami, Major Alberto Maza, Regional Commander of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Division of Law Enforcement, South B Region, announced the charges.

USFWS, HSI Miami, and FWC investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald is prosecuting it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Stone is handling asset forfeiture.

An indictment contains mere allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The public is encouraged to report any instances of illegal wildlife trapping and trafficking to the United States Fish & Wildlife Service at 305-526-2620 or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 888-404-3922 or by email or text to

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or at, under the case numbers listed above.



Public Affairs Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Florida

Updated April 14, 2023