Sacramento, CA — Cedar Ridge exotic pet owner Pete Johnson is in hot water today at Sacramento International Airport after he attempted to smuggle an entire Easter Island moai (one of the Island’s famous monumental statues) through customs. According to customs officials, they’ve never seen anything so brazen and strange before.

“We’re not sure what Mr. Johnson was thinking,” said US Customs Regional Chief Karyl Chambers, “but he certainly wasn’t thinking he was going to fool us. He didn’t even attempt to hide it.  He just strapped it into a suitcase and checked it on plane for an extra $3500.00. And his excuse was even stranger.”

According to interviews with Mr. Johnson, he claimed that the statue was a souvenir he purchased on a day trip to the Chilean coastline and not a real moai. However after a few phone calls to the remote Island, Customs officials were able to confirm that one of the 887 statues were missing.

“The Chilean government was shocked on a number of levels,” continued Chief Chambers. “The most obvious one is how did Mr. Johnson get the 4 ton moai off the island without detection? Obviously Mr. Johnson had not done his research, because if he had, we could have realized that each monument is bar-tagged.”

Officials were alerted to the stolen moai when a passenger reported what she said was “a huge and dangerous object in the baggage claim area.” When agents arrived, Mr. Johnson was attempting to lift the nearly 8000 lb. object by himself.

This isn’t the first time the Cedar Ridge resident has been in trouble. Two years ago he was caught by TSA agents attempting to smuggle an entire butchered lamb from his New Zealand vacation. And more recently,  the Nevada County sheriff has visited his home after reports that his pet cougar had gotten loose in the neighborhood and eaten several small dogs. And late last year he spent 3 days in the Wayne Brown Correctional facility for allowing his “pet” bull to run loose on the streets of Grass Valley damaging several cars and terrorizing shoppers.

“OK, so they got me,” said a frustrated Mr. Johnson speaking to Gish Gallop. “I didn’t know it was illegal to take one of these home as a present. It would have looked so great in my front yard. Besides, it was one of the smaller ones. I didn’t think they’d miss it.”

US Custom officials are planning to return the moai later this week. As for Mr. Johnson, he has been fined $5,000 and will go before a judge later this month.

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