Man charged with smuggling 1,700 reptiles into US

Jose Manuel Perez allegedly attempted to smuggle these reptiles into the U.S. (U.S. Attorney’s Business for the Central District of California)

(KTLA) — An Oxnard, California, male has been charged for illegally importing extra than 1,700 reptiles into the United States, 60 of which have been discovered hidden in his outfits very last month at the Mexican border.

Jose Manuel Perez, 30, was charged with just one count of conspiracy, nine counts of smuggling products into the U.S., and two counts of wildlife trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office environment for the Central District of California reported in a information release. The superseding indictment returned Thursday adds allegations to an indictment initially filed on Feb. 24.

Jose Manuel Perez allegedly tried out to smuggle these reptiles into the U.S. (U.S. Attorney’s Office environment for the Central District of California)

In accordance to authorities, the new allegations contain some accusing Perez of crossing into the U.S. from Mexico by automobile with close to 60 reptiles – which includes dozens of lizards and four snakes – inside his pockets, groin area and pant legs in late February.

At initial, Perez denied to customs officials that he experienced anything at all to declare but afterwards explained to them that “the animals have been his pets,” the indictment alleges.

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

Jose Manuel Perez allegedly tried using to smuggle these reptiles into the U.S. (U.S. Attorney’s Workplace for the Central District of California)

Amid the reptiles imported from Mexico and Hong Kong ended up Yucatan box turtles, Mexican box turtles, toddler crocodiles and Mexican beaded lizards. All ended up imported without needed permits, the U.S. Attorney’s Place of work claimed.

For those reptiles smuggled from Mexico, co-conspirators would acquire the wildlife from Cuidad Juarez Global Airport and sooner or later ship the animals by car to El Paso, Texas, the news launch claimed. Perez compensated his co-conspirators a “crossing fee” for just about every pickup – the sum of which depended on the number of reptiles, the dimensions of the package and the chance of currently being detected.

Perez and a co-conspirator would journey to Mexico themselves on some situations. For the duration of these trips, are living animals that had been taken from the wild had been procured and introduced into the U.S.

The moment the animals were in the U.S., they had been allegedly transported to Perez’s Missouri home and, following he moved to California, his residence in Ventura County.

According to the DOJ, Stephany Perez served in the unlawful wildlife smuggling business when her brother was incarcerated in the U.S. She has been billed in the indictment with conspiracy and is expected to look for an arraignment in the coming weeks, in accordance to the U.S. Attorney’s Workplace.

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

If convicted of all expenses, authorities said defendants would confront a statutory optimum sentence of 5 a long time in federal prison for the conspiracy cost. Jose Perez would deal with a statutory utmost sentence of 20 several years for each individual smuggling rely and five years for just about every wildlife trafficking rely.