Man Arrested for Attempting to Smuggle Tiger Cub into the California
26 August, 2017, 01:27 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers rescued an illegally-trafficked tiger cub from a traveler who attempted to bring it into California from Mexico early Wednesday morning.
Customs and Border Control said that an 18-year-old man arrived at the Otay Mesa port of entry with a passenger. While Valencia reportedly told authorities he had nothing to declare, upon inspecting the vehicle, border patrol officers found the male Bengal tiger cub sitting in the front passenger footwell. "The passenger advised that it was not a tiger but just a cat", a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent said in court documents.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release Thursday that the cub was found during a routine inspection of the vehicle at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Otay Mesa border crossing, southeast of downtown San Diego.
To legally import an endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must issue a permit. In April, Mexican officials seized a nine-month old Bengal tiger in Tijuana after the cub fell from a third-floor terrace onto a neighbor's patio, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The 18-year-old USA citizen, who lives in Perris, said he bought the little feline for $300 (£234) on the streets of Tijuana, Mexico.
Under federal law, all species of tigers - including Bengal tigers - are endangered species.
The tiger purchaser was released on a $10,000 bond and ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing on September 5 in federal court in San Diego.
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The animal, christened Blanca, wound up living out its days at San Diego Safari Park, CBP officials said. According to New York Daily News, Valencia faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Bengal tigers are local to India, with littler populaces in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. There are fewer than 3,000 left in the wild.
Prosecutors said Valencia lacked the permit and declaration.
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