California man charged with smuggling hundreds of reptiles from Mexico, Hong Kong | News

A California male has been billed with smuggling more than a thousand reptiles, some endangered, into the United States.

Jose Manuel Perez, 30, of Oxnard, also acknowledged as “Julio Rodriguez,” was billed with one rely of conspiracy, nine counts of smuggling goods into the United States and two counts of wildlife trafficking, in accordance to a assertion from the Section of Justice.

Perez was taken into custody when he allegedly tried to cross the US-Mexico border in February, with roughly 60 reptiles concealed in his dresses, authorities stated.

Authorities reported Perez initially denied he experienced everything to declare at the border, then reported the animals were his pets.

In overall, Perez illegally imported extra than 1,700 animals with a complete worth “exceeding $739,000”, according to the indictment, which was reviewed by CNN.

Perez is expected to be arraigned March 28 in United States District Courtroom in Los Angeles, according to the Office of Justice. His legal professional in San Diego, Jack Notar, advised CNN he experienced no remark at this time.

If convicted, Perez could encounter up to 20 years in jail for each and every smuggling depend and five a long time in prison for each and every wildlife trafficking depend.

Indictment: Animals offered to shoppers throughout the nation

The indictment alleges from 2016 to at least 2021, Perez, along with his sister, Stephany, and at least five co-conspirators in the US and Mexico, illegally smuggled and sold reptiles, some of which ended up caught in the wild in Mexico, and some of which were imported all the way from Hong Kong. From Perez’s home, initially in Missouri, and later on in California, the animals ended up then allegedly shipped to clients across the region.

Perez allegedly illegally imported baby crocodiles, Yucatán box turtles, Mexican box turtles, Mexican beaded lizards, among other species, from Mexico and Hong Kong, without the need of the required permits.

The indictment also alleges Perez wrote posts on his social media accounts publicly bragging about capturing wild reptiles while on excursions to Mexico. The two siblings allegedly employed social media to publicize the reptiles for sale and talk with customers.

The Conference on Worldwide Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty designed to assure the trade of exotic animals does not threaten their survival in the wild, shields more than 35,000 species of animals and plants. In the US, CITES is carried out via the Endangered Species Act, which necessitates unique “foreign export permits” for particular species.

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