San Diego: 18-Year-old Perris Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Smuggle Tiger Cub from Mexico

The Riverside County Resident  Faces up to Five Years in Prison with his Plea

Luis Valencia, an 18-year-old from Perris appeared before a Federal Judge in San Diego on Tuesday. The Riverside County man pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle a Bengal tiger cub into the United States in August of this year. The tiger cub is considered an endangered species.

On August 23ed Valencia, along with a 21-year old co-conspirator attempted to bring the 6-week-old cub into the United States from Mexico. They arrived at the Otay Mesa port of entry driving a 2017 Chevy Camaro, with the 21-year-old man in the passenger seat. The CBP officer conducting the inspection referred the vehicle and occupants for further inspection.

Border Patrol officers searched the vehicle and discovered a tiger cub lying on the floor of the front passenger side. Officers removed the tiger cub from the vehicle and placed it in an animal crate until agents from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service responded to the border crossing.

Valencia admitted that he was trying to conceal the animal from the Customs agents and bring the animal into the United States. Tigers are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The 18 Year-old from Perris can be sentenced to a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of at least $250,000. His court date has been set for February 20th.

The tiger cub has been named “Moka” and is doing fine in her new home at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.