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Monday, April 22nd, 2024

CBP rescues tiger cub from California border smuggling attempt

An illegally-trafficked tiger cub was found by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) during inspection of a vehicle headed into California from Mexico last week.

The attempt took place at Otay Mesa port of entry when two suspects–18 and 21-years-old, respectively–pulled up in a Chevy Camaro. When the vehicle was referred for further inspection, CBP officers searched and discovered the baby animal concealed on the front passenger side.

“CBP officers are often faced with unusual situations,” said Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego. “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.”

The endangered animal was promptly removed from the vehicle and placed in an animal crate for its protection until U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents could arrive and take charge. While the tiger’s well-being is considered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the San Diego Zoo Global, the driver and passenger were arrested and sent to Metropolitan Correctional Center where they await arraignment.

Trade in endangered species of wildlife, plants and their products is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to which the U.S. subscribes. Permits are required for any such transportation.

This marks the second time California has faced a tiger cub smuggling attempt. However, the last incident, more than 20 years ago, was an attempt to smuggle one out of California and into Mexico. That tiger went on to become a staple of the San Diego Safari Park.