Man charged with smuggling 1,700 reptiles into the U.S., including some in his clothes: DOJ

(KTLA) – An Oxnard, California, person has been charged for illegally importing a lot more than 1,700 reptiles into the United States, 60 of which had been uncovered concealed in his clothing final month at the Mexican border.

Jose Manuel Perez, 30, was billed with a single depend of conspiracy, 9 counts of smuggling merchandise into the U.S., and two counts of wildlife trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release. The superseding indictment returned Thursday provides allegations to an indictment initially filed on Feb. 24.

In accordance to authorities, the new allegations contain some accusing Perez of crossing into the U.S. from Mexico by car with around 60 reptiles – like dozens of lizards and 4 snakes – inside of his pockets, groin place and pant legs in late February.

At 1st, Perez denied to customs officers that he experienced anything to declare but later informed them that “the animals had been his pets,” the indictment alleges.

From January 2016 to February 2022, Perez his sister, Stephany Perez and their co-conspirators employed social media to purchase and negotiate the sale and delivery of wildlife in the U.S., in accordance to the Section of Justice. They allegedly posted shots and video clips displaying the reptiles being collected from the wild.

Amid the reptiles imported from Mexico and Hong Kong ended up Yucatan box turtles, Mexican box turtles, child crocodiles and Mexican beaded lizards. All have been imported without expected permits, the U.S. Attorney’s Business explained.

For people reptiles smuggled from Mexico, co-conspirators would collect the wildlife from Cuidad Juarez International Airport and inevitably ship the animals by car or truck to El Paso, Texas, the news launch reported. Perez paid his co-conspirators a “crossing fee” for each individual pickup – the amount of money of which depended on the selection of reptiles, the sizing of the package and the threat of staying detected.

Perez and a co-conspirator would journey to Mexico by themselves on some instances. During these outings, stay animals that experienced been taken from the wild were being purchased and brought into the U.S.

Once the animals were in the U.S., they have been allegedly transported to Perez’s Missouri home and, soon after he moved to California, his residence in Ventura County.

In accordance to the DOJ, Stephany Perez served in the unlawful wildlife smuggling organization even though her brother was incarcerated in the U.S. She has been billed in the indictment with conspiracy and is envisioned to appear for an arraignment in the coming weeks, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Place of work.

Jose Perez has been in federal custody considering the fact that his arrest on Feb. 25, next the incident at the border, and is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in Los Angeles.

If convicted of all charges, authorities reported defendants would face a statutory most sentence of five several years in federal prison for the conspiracy cost. Jose Perez would facial area a statutory highest sentence of 20 decades for each smuggling count and five many years for each individual wildlife trafficking count.