Border cops find 52 snakes and horned lizards tied up in bags and hidden in a US man’s ‘pockets and groin’ as he tried to smuggle them into California from Mexico
A 30-year-old man was found with 52 snakes and lizards tied up in bags and hidden in his ‘pockets and groin area’ as he tried to smuggle them into California from Mexico.
The US citizen had been driving a 2018 GMC truck when he was pulled aside at the San Ysidro border crossing with Mexico at around 3am on February 25, US Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.
Agents found the live reptiles hidden in small bags in ‘the man’s jacket, pants pockets, and groin area’, customs officials added.
Nine snakes and 43 horned lizards were seized, authorities said. Some of the reptiles were found to be endangered species and will remain in quarantine.
After his arrest, the driver was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) and Fish and Wildlife Services (F&WS) for processing. He was then booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Sidney Aki, Customs and Border Protection director of field operations in San Diego, said the man did not consider the ‘health and safety’ of the animals.
‘Smugglers will try every possible way to try and get their product, or in this case live reptiles, across the border,’ Aki said.
‘In this occasion, the smuggler attempted to deceive CBP officers in order to bring these animals into the US, without taking care for the health and safety of the animals.’
The seizure came after a coordinated investigation by HSI San Diego, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Customs and Border Protection, according to Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Diego.
He added: ‘HSI will continue to aggressively investigate individuals who are involved in the unlawful smuggling and trafficking of endangered wildlife for their own financial gain.’
While acting Resident Agent in Charge Ed Nieves added: ‘We would like to thank our partners at HSI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and many others for their cooperative assistance to hold this individual accountable and help protect wildlife species for future generations.’