SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reporting the arrest of a man who tried to smuggle 52 reptiles through the San Ysidro Port of Entry early in the morning of Feb. 25.
CBP says the man had tied all the reptiles in small bags and hid them under and within his clothing.
Officers reportedly became suspicious of the man, only identified as a U.S. citizen, as he tried to drive his 2018 GMC truck into the U.S. from Tijuana.
The man was sent to the secondary inspection area for further screening.
As officers searched the driver, they discovered several bags containing the live animals.
CBP says the officers removed a total of 52 bags holding 43 horned lizards and nine snakes, which were concealed in the man’s jacket, pants pockets and groin area.
“Smugglers will try every possible way to try and get their product, or in this case live reptiles, across the border,” said Sidney Aki, CBP Director of Field Operations in San Diego. “In this occasion, the smuggler attempted to deceive CBP officers in order to bring these animals into the U.S., without taking care for the health and safety of the animals. CBP enforces hundreds of laws at the border for more than 40 different government agencies, in part to help stop smuggling attempts like these which can lead to trafficking of possibly endangered species.”
CBP officers arrested the driver for attempting to smuggle the reptiles.
“This seizure is the direct result of a coordinated investigative effort by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Customs and Border Protection,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for H.S.I. San Diego. “H.S.I. will continue to aggressively investigate individuals who are involved in the unlawful smuggling and trafficking of endangered wildlife for their own financial gain.”
CBP officers seized the horned lizards, snakes, and vehicle.
The live reptiles were placed in a secure and safe area and will remain in quarantine as some have been identified as endangered.