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

An Oxnard male was billed Thursday after allegedly illegally importing extra than 1,700 reptiles into the United States, including 60 found concealed in his apparel past thirty day period at the country’s border with Mexico.

Jose Manuel Perez, a.k.a. “Julio Rodriguez,” 30, was billed in a superseding indictment with one rely of conspiracy, 9 counts of smuggling products into the United States and two counts of wildlife trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office environment for the Central District of California stated in a information launch.

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

Perez is predicted to be arraigned on Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

His 25-calendar year-aged sister, Stephany Perez, is also charged in the indictment with conspiracy and will be directed to show up for an arraignment in the coming months, in accordance to the U.S. Attorney’s Place of work.

The superseding indictment returned Thursday provides allegations to an indictment initially filed on Feb. 24.

The new allegations involve 14 overt acts in the conspiracy demand, which includes some accusing Jose Perez of crossing into the U.S. from Mexico by automobile at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Feb. 25 with close to 60 reptiles – which include dozens of lizards and 4 snakes – hid inside his jacket pockets, trousers pockets, groin location and pant legs, the information launch states.

Perez in the beginning denied to customs officers that he experienced anything to declare but afterwards instructed them that “the animals have been his animals,” the indictment acquired by the Section of Justice alleges.

From January 2016 to February 2022, the Perez siblings and their co-conspirators utilised social media to buy and to negotiate the phrases of the sale and supply of wildlife in the U.S., according to the indictment. They allegedly advertised on social media animals smuggled from Mexico into the U.S. for sale, submitting photos and video clip that depicted the animals currently being collected from the wild.

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

The animals – which integrated Yucatan box turtles, Mexican box turtles, baby crocodiles and Mexican beaded lizards – allegedly had been imported into the state from Mexico and Hong Kong without having getting permits required by an intercontinental treaty known as the Conference on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the U.S. Attorney’s Workplace said.

For the animals allegedly smuggled from Mexico, co-conspirators would retrieve the wildlife from Cuidad Juarez International Airport in Mexico and eventually ship the animals by automobile to El Paso, Texas, the information release claims.

Perez paid his co-conspirators a “crossing fee” for each and every border crossing – the quantity of which depended on the range of animals transported, the measurement of the bundle and the threat of currently being detected by authorities.

On other instances, Perez and a co-conspirator traveled to Mexico to invest in more dwell animals that had been taken from the wild so that the animals could be smuggled into the U.S., according to the indictment.

As soon as the animals were shipped to the U.S., they were being allegedly transported to Perez’s then-home in Missouri. But after he moved to California, the wildlife was shipped to his home in Ventura County.

Stephany Perez allegedly assisted in the unlawful wildlife smuggling business enterprise, particularly all through two extended durations when her brother was incarcerated in the U.S., the DOJ explained.

Jose Perez has been in federal custody considering the fact that his arrest on Feb. 25.

If convicted of all fees, the defendants would confront a statutory highest sentence of 5 years in federal jail for the conspiracy charge. Jose Perez would facial area a statutory most sentence of 20 yrs in jail for every single smuggling depend and five many years in prison for every single wildlife trafficking rely.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Services investigated the make a difference with support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, U.S. Customs and Border Safety and Homeland Safety Investigations.