FREDERICK, Md. (DC News Now) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied clearance for monkeys from a Cambodian supplier that were shipped to the U.S. for medical research. This sparked a smuggling scheme investigation by the Department of Justice.

The monkeys now remain at Charles River, a lab in Frederick that supplies primates for testing purposes.

On February 17th, Charles River received a grand jury subpoena from the Department of Justice relating to an investigation into the Cambodian non-human primates supply chain.

PETA protestors brought awareness to the issue in a silent protest at Dulles International Airport.

“The experimentation industry is really a part of the global wildlife trade in endangered species and this industry is remarkably greedy, and it is unspeakably cruel. It’s deadly, it’s violent,” said Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel, scientific advisor for primate experimentation for PETA.

Charles River said it will keep the monkeys it currently has.

Charles River has voluntarily suspended planned, future shipments of Cambodian non-human primates until we and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can develop and implement new procedures to reinforce confidence that the non-human primates we import from Cambodia are purpose-bred. While these discussions with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are ongoing, we have also agreed to continue to care for the Cambodia-sourced non-human primates from these shipments, in the United States.

Statement from Charles River

A spokesperson for Charles River says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires testing in two animal species for drug analysis such as the development of every Covid-19 vaccine.

With the FDA Modernization Act 2.0 — which authorizes the use of certain alternatives to animal testing — being passed, PETA says something needs to change.

“This is a critical pivot point where the industry can continue relying on non-human endangered primates that don’t give us the answers or move to these non-animal alternatives. This industry is capable of this,” said Dr. Jones-Engel.