Teenager smuggles Bengal tiger cub into the US
A teenager has been arrested for attempting to smuggle a Bengal tiger cub into the US from Mexico.
Luis Eudoro Valencia was caught trying to bring the illegally-trafficked cub into California, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers say.
The 18-year-old arrived at the Otay Mesa port of entry, with a 21-year-old man in the passenger seat, and was arrested following an inspection of the vehicle.
CBP officers were stunned to discover a tiger cub lying on the floor of the front passenger side.
The driver claims he bought the cub from someone who was walking an adult tiger on a leash on the streets of the Mexican city of Tijuana for $300 (€251).
"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."
Agents from the US Fish and Wildlife Service took custody of the tiger cub and are working with the San Diego Zoo Global to ensure its wellbeing, the CBP added.
It’s not the first time someone has attempted to smuggle an endangered animal across the border, 20 years ago officers intercepted an attempt to smuggle a tiger cub into Mexico.
The tiger, later named “Blanca”, resided for many years at the San Diego Safari Park after its rescue.
International trade in species listed by the CITES treaty to protect endangered animals is illegal unless authorised by permit.
When Donald Trump said he wanted to build an impenetrable wall on the US-Mexico border, he probably wasn't thinking about keeping out tiger cubs.