U.S. teen accused of attempting to smuggle a Bengal tiger cub from Mexico

Written by on August 25, 2017 in Critter Crimes - 1 Comment

U.S. customs agents likely saved the life of a Bengal tiger cub.

San Diego’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it rescued an illegally trafficked tiger from a man who tried to smuggle it into California from Mexico this week.

The 18-year-old driver with a 21-year-old passenger attempted to cross the border at Otay Mesa at 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. But an eagle-eyed customs agent sent the pair and their vehicle for a further look.

That’s when the CBP San Diego says officials spotted the tiger cub on lying on the floor.

Officers scooped it up and placed it in a crate and called the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

“CBP officers are often faced with unusual situations,” Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego, said in a statement. “The CBP officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry met the challenge head on and assisted in preserving the life of this endangered species.”

The driver was arrested. He is a U.S. citizen.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) makes global trade in species illegal unless authorized by permit.

Court documents say Luis Eudoro Valencia bought the cub on the streets of Tijuana for $300 from someone walking an adult tiger on a leash, according to the Associated Press.

He’s to be back in court Sept. 5.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is now working with the government to determine what’s best for the cub.

Interestingly, two decades ago customs agents working seized a tiger cub that someone was trying to take out of California and into Mexico.

That tiger ended up living at the San Diego Safari Park.

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