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A pickup heading southbound to Mexico on Monday, January 11, had a compartment concealed under the truck’s bed that was filled with more than 40 game birds. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers detected the compartment before the truck could cross.

Sixteen of the birds — roosters and hens believed bound for a life of breeding, fighting, and dying for wagers — were dead by the time they were discovered, the CBP said in a statement.

The pickup truck was attempting to cross into Mexico at around 10:15 a.m. Agents singled out for inspection the white truck with Baja plates being driven by a 32-year-old Tijuana resident.

The search turned up the hidden compartment with a total of 46 tightly packed roosters and four hens. The dead birds were found in the bottom of the compartment. The birds were stuffed in nylon stockings, restrained by Velcro ties, and stacked two or three deep.

Authorities believe the birds were sedated for the trip and would have been used for cockfighting and related breeding purposes. CBP turned the driver over to U.S. Department of Agriculture authorities. He is being held in the San Diego Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal lockup.

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