Southern California Man Charged with Smuggling Tiger Cub

SAN DIEGO – Luis Eudoro Valencia, of Perris, California, was charged yesterday with smuggling a Bengal tiger cub into the United States from Mexico.

According to the complaint, Valencia drove into the Otay Mesa Port of Entry with the tiger cub on the floor of the vehicle. It is alleged that Valencia failed to declare the tiger cub to Customs and Border Protection officers. The tiger cub was discovered in the secondary inspection area.

Tiger cub found during CBP inspection in passenger vehicle at Otay Mesa (photo credit: CBP)

According to the complaint, the defendant stated that he had purchased the tiger for $300 from an individual he encountered walking a full-sized tiger on a leash in Tijuana. All species of tigers are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and are protected under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. To legally import an endangered species into the United States requires a permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the importation must be accompanied by a Declaration Form 3-177 filed with Fish & Wildlife. According to the complaint, the defendant lacked the required permit and did not file the required declaration.

The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is the most populous subspecies of tiger. The Bengal tiger is native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. According to the World Tiger Recovery Project, there are only 2,500 wild specimens on earth and the population of Bengal tigers is decreasing.

Valencia was released on a $10,000 personal surety bond and ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing on September 5, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal.