In 1993, in an effort to avoid bad press, a zoo in Toluca, Mexico sought to quickly and quietly replace a gorilla that had died under their care. A group of officials from Mexico, including Victor Bernal, the director of zoos and parks for the interior state of Mexico, toured zoos in the Miami area inspecting potential replacements. Upon identifying their ape of choice, the officials paid $92,500 for the animal, in clear violation of trade laws. The deal included false permits from an illicit primate dealer in Miami. The officials were told to expect delivery of the animal the following Monday.
At the Opa-Locka airport in Florida, the trio of smugglers took possession of one (1) large cage stamped “Live Animal” which contained one (1) gorilla. But Bernal and his two accomplices soon discovered that the Americans had sent the wrong species of ape. This cage contained a human—a US Fish and Wildlife agent diabolically disguised in a gorilla suit. The smugglers and their party were promptly arrested for trafficking in endangered primates.