A California man has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling reptiles to the United States. The man is said to have brought about 1,700 reptiles from Mexico and Hong Kong since 2016.
His taboos ranged from turtles to Mexican short lizards and baby crocodiles. The public prosecutor estimates the total market value at around 670,000 euros.
The police had been tracking the network of Jose Manuel Perez, known in the smuggling world under the pseudonym Julio Rodriguez, for some time. Perez often featured species of exotic animals on social media, many of which are endangered. He sold some reptiles for thousands of euros, such as the helmet of an iguana that sells for 2,270 euros.
On February 25 of this year, the police managed to arrest him in the town of San Ysidro, on the US-Mexico border. At the time, Perez had about sixty reptiles stashed in small bags in his jacket, pockets, and underpants. The reptiles included three small snakes, a false cat’s eye snake, a parrot snake, and four cone-headed lizards. Perez first stated that they are his pets.
In addition to his trade in animals from Mexico, Perez is also accused of importing at least 30 tortoises from Hong Kong. Earlier this month, Perez was already stopped at the US-Mexico border. However, he was subsequently denied entry to Mexican territory because he was carrying 15 tortoises, 12 pythons and eight chameleons at the time. The public prosecutor said Jose Perez could end up behind bars for years. He is due to appear in court this month.
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