Feds: Man smuggled 1,700 reptiles from Mexico, Hong Kong

Reptile Smuggling
Reptile smuggling
Posted at 7:32 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 22:32:57-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California man is accused of smuggling more than 1,700 reptiles — including baby crocodiles and Mexican beaded lizards — into the U.S. since 2016.

Jose Manuel Perez, also known as “Julio Rodriguez,” was taken into custody on Feb. 25 at the San Ysidro border crossing with Mexico.

Border patrol agents say they found about 60 lizards and snakes hidden in the 30-year-old's clothing. Some of the smuggled reptiles were protected and endangered species, authorities said.

Reptile smuggling
This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows horned lizards found during a smuggling attempt at the San Diego, Calif., border.

Perez, of Oxnard, has been in federal custody since then and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles on Thursday announced additional charges on a superseding indictment that also includes Perez’s sister as a defendant.

Perez is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles on Monday.

His federal attorney in San Diego declined to comment.