Citing local authorities on Friday, the British daily The Guardian reported on its website on Friday that a southern California man is accused of smuggling more than 1,700 reptiles into the United States since 2016, including baby crocodiles and Mexican snake lizards.
Jose Manuel Pérez, also known as Julio Rodriguez, was arrested February 25 at the US-Mexico border at the San Ysidro border crossing.
Border guards found about 60 lizards and snakes bound in small bags hidden in his coat, pants pocket, and loins. The man said that reptiles are pets.
Perez, 30, who lives in Oxnard, has been in federal custody since, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office brought additional charges against him in a supplemental indictment Thursday, with the man’s sister already on trial.
It is known that Perez will be tried in Los Angeles on Monday. Authorities said some of the smuggled reptiles are protected and endangered.
Jose Manuel Perez, 30, of Oxnard, is accused of smuggling more than 1,700 reptiles into the United States, including 60 that were found hidden in his clothes at the San Ysidro port of entry in February 2022. pic.twitter.com/YWKF0dOXRc
– US Attorney Los Angeles (@USAO_LosAngeles) March 24, 2022
According to the indictment, as of January 2016, Perez and his sister along with others used social media to buy and sell wildlife in the United States. The animals, including box turtles from Yucatan and Mexico, were allegedly imported from Mexico and Hong Kong without permission.
Authorities said the reptile was originally moved to Perez’s home in Missouri, but was later moved to Oxnard when the man moved to California. Prosecutors say his sister helped him smuggle, especially during the time Perez was imprisoned in the United States.
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