As our economy sinks deeper and deeper into the financial abyss, we all have to do what we can to make a little extra money this holiday season. Perhaps some of you are getting a second job working as an elf at Santa’s Workshop in your local mall. Or maybe you are planning on manning the wood chipper at a roadside Christmas tree shop. While those are both viable options, one creative entrepreneur had a better plan – 28-year-old Gypsy Lawson tried to make some extra cash by entering the lucrative monkey smuggling market.
Lawson, along with her mother Fran Ogren, was convicted of smuggling and conspiracy to smuggle a monkey, which violates several federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act. While most smugglers simply shove a balloon filled with heroin up their asses, Lawson actually hid a sedated rhesus macaque monkey under her blouse, pretending to be pregnant.
She flew from Bangkok, Thailand to Los Angeles, California. In case you were wondering, that is an 18 hour flight. That means that Lawson’s plan consisted of sedating a monkey and then keeping it under her shirt for 18 hours. Think about how long 18 hours is – then try to imagine having a monkey under your shirt for that length of time. Then add in the great atmosphere that you encounter on any international flight and you can begin to appreciate just how genius this plan truly was.
While the plan may seem pretty cut and dry, it was more involved than you might imagine. Authorities discovered journals and handwritten notes from Lawson and her mother which detailed their attempts to find a monkey small enough to smuggle into the U.S. (because when you are attempting to pull off a criminal conspiracy, it’s always best to take copious notes). According to U.S. Attorney James McDevitt, the journals also described their “acquisition of a small monkey and their experimenting with different medicines to sedate the monkey for their journey home.” I like to imagine Lawson and her mother in lab coats and safety goggles, carefully measuring out monkey sedatives while laughing manically at their brilliant evil plan.
And for all of you young kids out there who are sleeping your way through school, let this be a lesson to you – you should always pay attention in chemistry class because you never know when you might have to figure out the proper dose of sedative to give to a rhesus macaque monkey that you plan on hiding under your shirt for an 18 hour flight.
Now that they have been convicted, Lawson and Ogren are awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for March 3, 2009. For the smuggling conviction, the pair faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of court supervision upon release. The conspiracy to smuggle conviction carries a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and as many as three years of court supervision upon release.
While the possibility of 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines may seem a bit extreme for a couple of harmless monkey smugglers, it’s important to note that rhesus monkeys can carry viruses and parasites that can be transmitted to humans (especially humans that are foolish enough to stuff said monkey under their shirt for 18 hours). Anyone who has seen the movie Outbreak knows how much havoc a single infected monkey can wreak on this country. Luckily, Lawson’s monkey tested negative.
It will be interesting to see how lenient the judge will be on Lawson during sentencing. Will the judge make an example out of her to deter all future monkey smugglers or will the judge show mercy in light of the fact that the monkey wasn’t infected? While she certainly deserves to do some hard time, I hope the judge goes easy on Lawson. After all, her mom named her “Gypsy” for goodness sake. Is it really that surprising that she turned to a life of crime? She was most likely born in the wagon of a travelling show surrounded by tramps and thieves.
Luckily, this story does come with a happy ending. The monkey that she smuggled into the country is now living in a rescue center for abandoned primates. Like so many other immigrants who survived an arduous journey to get to this country, the monkey can now make a new life for himself in America, the land of opportunity. Already, he is no doubt the life of all of the parties held at the rescue center, impressing the other monkeys with his tale of the crazy lady who drugged him and stuffed him down her shirt for 18 hours. God bless America.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.