Californian Pleads Guilty to Tiger Smuggling

SAN DIEGO (CN) — An 18-year-old Southern California man faces up to five years in federal prison after admitting on Tuesday that he smuggled a 6-week-old tiger cub into the United States from Mexico.

Luis Valencia, of Perris, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, admitting he drove through the San Ysidro border crossing with the tiger cub stashed under his front passenger seat.

Valencia was incompetent enough to drive a 2017 Camaro through the border crossing with no license plates, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. He’d picked up the tiger from the Aeromexico cargo area that day, and admitted he knew it was illegal, and that he was doing it for money, prosecutors said.

All tiger species are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, to which the United States and Mexico are signatories.

Valencia will be sentenced on Feb. 20, 2018. His co-defendant Eriberto Paniagua is set for trial on Jan. 9.

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