California man pleads guilty after smuggling 1,700 reptiles

A man has pleaded guilty for illegally importing reptiles into the United States after agents discovered more than 1,700 animals on him at the Mexican border. He was carrying 60 reptiles worth $739,000, which were hidden in his clothing in small bags, according to prosecutors. The man pleaded guilty to one count of wildlife trafficking and two counts of smuggling. United States prosecutors said that social media helped him smuggle animals in to the U.S. between 2016 and 2022. The species came from Mexico and Hong Kong, including Yucatan box turtles (Terrapene yucatana), baby crocodiles, Mexican box turtles (Terrapene mexicana) and beaded lizards (Heloderma horridum). The man fled to Tijuana at one point after removing his ankle bracelet that contained a tracking device, but was caught in Mexico again. His sister was also allegedly involved, though her trial isn’t scheduled until February.

Read more at ABC News.

Header Image: A number of reptile species were hidden on a man who recently pled guilty for smuggling. Credit: U.S. Department of Justice