November 25, 2007

AP News |

The line in the story that gets me is the "tiny, hairy arm hidden in her garage."

AP News |

"NEW YORK (AP) -- From her baptism in Liberia to Christmas years later in her adopted New York City, Mamie Manneh never lost the longing to celebrate religious rituals by eating monkey meat.

Now, the tribal customs of Manneh and other West African immigrants have become the focus of an unusual criminal case charging her with meat smuggling, and touching on issues of religious freedom, infectious diseases and wildlife preservation.

The case "appears to be the first of its kind relating to that uniquely African product," defense attorney Jan Rostal wrote in a pending motion to dismiss. "Unfortunately, it represents the sort of clash of cultural and religious values inherent in the melting pot that is America."

At the center of the case in federal court is a modest woman with nine children and a history of domestic discord.

The case dates to early 2006, when federal inspectors at JFK Airport examined a shipment of 12 cardboard boxes from Guinea.

They were addressed to Manneh and, according to a flight manifest, contained African dresses and smoked fish with a value of $780.

Instead, stashed underneath the smoked fish, the inspectors found what West Africans refer to as bushmeat: "skulls, limbs and torsos of non-human primate species" plus the hoof and leg of a small antelope, according to court papers.

Three days later, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents were at Manneh's door, where she told them she ran a smoked fish importing business.

According to the agents, she initially denied ordering any bushmeat from Africa or ever eating it while in the United States.

But after she consented to a search, the agents came across a tiny, hairy arm hidden in her garage."

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