Angels A man from Southern California has been charged with smuggling more than 1,700 reptiles into the United States since 2016, including Mexican-spotted lizards and baby crocodiles, officials said Thursday.
Jose Manuel Perez, also known as “Julio Rodriguez”, was detained on February 25 at the entrance to the port of San Jacitro on the Mexican border.
Border patrol agents found about 60 lizards and snakes in small bags that were “hidden in the man’s jacket, pants pockets and waist area,” officials said last month. Perez is said to have told authorities that the animals were his pets.
Perez, 30, of Oxnord, has been in federal custody ever since, and federal prosecutors in Los Angeles announced additional charges Thursday that listed Perez’s sister as a co – defendant.
Perez will be arraigned Monday in Los Angeles. His federal attorney in San Diego declined to comment. Authorities said some of the abducted reptiles were protected or endangered species.
As of January 2016, Perez and his sister have been accused of using social networking sites to buy and sell wildlife in the United States. Animals including Yucatan box turtles and Mexican box turtles were imported from Mexico and Hong Kong without proper permission.
The reptile was first brought to Perez’s home in Missouri, but was later sent to Axnord when he moved to California, officials said. Especially when Perez was imprisoned in the United States, his sister helped him in his abduction business, prosecutors say.