There's Nothing Religious About Smuggling Endangered Monkey Meat into New York
Photo courtesy of Fondation Brigitte Bardot
Three years ago, customs agents discovered dozens of pieces of endangered baboons and monkeys hidden in a package filled with smoked fish at Kennedy Airport. (Guess huge pieces of monkey meat in fish filets are easier to spot than lead paint in kids' toys, huh?) Monkey skulls, limbs, and torsos were all discovered in the contents, which the package's owner, Mamie Manneh, apparently had shipped from Africa.
Her defense up until now was that she needed the rare, endangered primates for religious purposes. But now, according to Newsday, a judge has thrown out that defense, evidently deeming that keeping dozens of pieces of rotting, dismembered animals in your luggage was an act of bad faith—whatever that faith happened to be.
Actually, the judge, Raymond J. Dearie, merely found the defendant's plea to be "lacking in sincerity." Manneh, a Liberian Christian, claimed that members of her community ate monkey meat, especially around the holidays, for spiritual reasons, and therefore should be protected under the First Amendment. But the judge wasn't buying it.
From the AP:
"[Dearie] also noted that it didn't address the main point of the criminal charge: That she hadn't applied for the permits needed to import such exotic foodstuffs and had misled border officials about what she was shipping into the country.
Nothing in her religion, Dearie wrote, "required her to abstain from truthful completion of paperwork."
The question remains: if she wasn't going to use the dozens of monkey parts—and the 33 other pieces of animals found after her home was searched—for religious purposes, what the hell was she going to do with them?
Also, it should be noted that Manneh is already currently serving jail time for trying to run down another woman in her car.