December 3, 2022


pets keep it coming

California man accused of smuggling more than 1,700 reptiles into the U.S., told officials animals were “his pets”

2 min read

A Southern California gentleman is accused of smuggling a lot more than 1,700 reptiles — together with toddler crocodiles and Mexican beaded lizards — into the U.S. because 2016, authorities said Thursday. Jose Manuel Perez, also recognized as “Julio Rodriguez,” was taken into custody on Feb. 25 at the San Ysidro border crossing with Mexico.

Border patrol brokers discovered about 60 lizards and snakes tied up in small luggage, “which were hid in the man’s jacket, trousers pockets, and groin location,” authorities reported very last thirty day period.

Right after originally denying to customs officers that he experienced something to declare, Perez afterwards explained to them that “the animals ended up his animals,” the indictment alleges.

Perez, 30, of Oxnard, has been in federal custody considering the fact that then and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles on Thursday announced supplemental costs on a superseding indictment that also consists of Perez’s sister as a defendant.

Perez is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles on Monday. His federal lawyer in San Diego declined to comment Thursday. Some of the smuggled reptiles were safeguarded and endangered species, authorities reported.

Beginning January 2016, Perez and his sister, as well as other individuals, are accused of making use of social media to invest in and market wildlife in the U.S. The animals, which includes Yucatan and Mexican box turtles, had been allegedly imported from Mexico and Hong Kong without the need of permits.

The reptiles had been at first taken to Perez’s residence in Missouri but afterwards shipped to Oxnard when he moved to California, authorities mentioned. His sister assisted him in the smuggling enterprise, prosecutors alleged, especially all through periods when Perez was incarcerated in the U.S.

“Smugglers will try out each and every probable way to try out and get their products, or in this situation live reptiles, throughout the border,” Sidney Aki, Customs and Border Protection director of subject operations in San Diego, said before this thirty day period. “In this occasion, the smuggler attempted to deceive CBP officers in purchase to convey these animals into the U.S., without taking care for the well being and security of the animals.”

Smuggled Critters
This undated file picture offered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection displays horned lizards uncovered during a smuggling attempt at the San Diego, Calif., border.

/ AP