Man charged with smuggling tiger cub into US

Tiger cub confiscated at border in failed smuggling attempt

Tiger cub confiscated at border in failed smuggling attempt

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers rescued an illegally-trafficked tiger cub from a traveler who attempted to bring it into California from Mexico early Wednesday morning.

Around 1:30 a.m. on August 23, Valencia and his passenger drove into the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in a silver 2017 Chevrolet Camaro with no license plates, the complaint said.

A California man has been charged with smuggling a Bengal tiger cub into the United States from Mexico.

Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego, said: 'CBP officers are often faced with unusual situations. "The CBP officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry met the challenge head-on and assisted in preserving the life of this endangered species". That tiger was named "Blanca" and lived out many years at the San Diego Safari Park, said CBP officers.

Now the zoo is providing veterinary care for the member of an endangered species, with only 2,500 Bengal tigers in the wild.

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All tigers are protected under the Endangered Species Act and require a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit to be imported in the United States. Valencia, who officials said "failed to declare the cub" to agents, stated that "he had purchased the tiger for $300 from an individual he encountered walking a full-sized tiger on a leash in Tijuana".

In January, Mexican specialists grabbed a Bengal tiger in Tijuana after an occupant called police to report a man was strolling a tiger on a canine chain through the area. The cub had reportedly been living in a private Tijuana home with young children. They are working with San Diego Zoo Global to ensure its well-being.

The Bengal tiger is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.

Prosecutors say Valencia needed both. Valencia could not be immediately reached for comment nor could his court-appointed attorney. According to New York Daily News, Valencia faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Valencia was released after posting a $10,000 bond and was ordered to return to court September 5 for a preliminary hearing.

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