(CBS NEWS)- A 53-year-old Dallas man has been indicted on charges of smuggling dead hummingbirds from Mexico into the United States. Carlos Delgado Rodriguez was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 14 and faces up to 20 years in prison.
According to the indictment, Rodriguez unlawfully imported approximately 61 dead hummingbirds into the U.S. from Feb. 2013 to Jan. 2014 with the intent to sell them.
"The state system is going to criminalize certain activities," said former federal prosecutor Shamoil Shipchandler, "but when you get across the border, you're going to trigger the federal laws, which are generally going to be much more stringent."
The importation of dead hummingbirds violates the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Lacey Act, federal smuggling laws, and Texas State Law.
It's unclear as to why the animals were being smuggled into the United States, but Shipchandler says the government has a number of reasons for outlawing such activity.
"I haven't seen any hummingbirds, but the theory is generally the same," said Shipchandler.
"When you have protected species, they're usually protected for a certain reason. Either you don't want them to contaminate the existing species or ruin the existing species, or there's something about protecting them that's going to benefit the state or federal government."
The indictment does not specify why the hummingbirds were dead.