The animals that he netted, which included Yucatan box turtles, Mexican box turtles, baby crocodiles and Mexican beaded lizards, were sold to clients across the country for upwards of $739,000, documents show.
As part of a $750,000 reptile smuggling scheme, a man tried to sneak snakes and lizards into the United States by hiding them in his trousers, US officials said Wednesday.
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Jose Manuel Perez, 30, of Oxnard, pleaded guilty today to two counts of smuggling and one count of wildlife trafficking. In February 2022, Perez was arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry with 60 reptiles on his person and hidden in his clothing. Dec. 1 sentencing hearing set. pic.twitter.com/jfH2PYX66W— US Attorney L.A. (@USAO_LosAngeles) August 24, 2022
Jose Manuel Perez masterminded the six-year scheme from his home in southern California, which involved bringing 1,700 animals into the United States from Mexico and Hong Kong, as reported by news agency Agence France-Presse
In a plea agreement with the Department of Justice, Perez admitted that he sometimes used his own means of border crossing and other times paid mules to deliver his illegal goods.
The animals that he netted, which included Yucatan box turtles, Mexican box turtles, baby crocodiles and Mexican beaded lizards, were sold to clients across the US for upwards of $739,000, documents show.
His downfall occurred on February 25, when he attempted to drive from Mexico while concealing 60 animals in various places on his shirt and around his groin.
He was discovered to be carrying 60 reptiles on him after originally claiming to customs agents he was carrying his pet lizards in his pockets.
They included arboreal alligator lizards and Isthmian dwarf boas, a kind of snake that changes colour and whose defence mechanisms include bleeding from its eyes.
Three of the reptiles were dead.
On December 1, Perez will get his punishment after admitting to two counts of smuggling, each of which has a possible sentence of 20 years in prison, and one offence of wildlife trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
First Published: Aug 25, 2022 4:58 PM IST
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