Guinea pig importer says it was a mistake

March 7, 2011 at 12:45 PM

ORANGEVILLE, Ontario, March 7 (UPI) -- A Canadian importer said allegations he attempted to bring prohibited meat -- frozen guinea pigs -- into the country are the result of a mistake.

Marco Rodriguez of Orangeville, Ontario, who was to have made his first court appearance Monday, said he originally ordered the guinea pigs because he knew of interested restaurants and knew of a company that imported to the United States, the Toronto Star reported Monday.

"If they can import to the U.S. I thought we can import to Canada," Rodriguez said.

He said he canceled the order upon learning the Canadian Food Inspection Agency does not allow the importing of meat from Peru but 20 cases of guinea pigs were still included in his April 2009 shipment.

Rodriguez, who moved to Canada from Peru in 1999, said the invoice accompanying the shipment backs his story with no mention of the guinea pigs.

Crown prosecutor Marc Tardif said "there is evidence to the contrary" of Rodriguez's version of events. Tardif said evidence was found during a search of the man's house.

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