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Teen Tries to Smuggle Tiger Cub, Gets 6 Months in Prison

Teen Tries to Smuggle Tiger Cub, Gets 6 Months in Prison

This Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, file photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows an agent holding a male tiger cub that was confiscated at the U.S. border crossing at Otay Mesa southeast of downtown San Diego. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)

By    |   Thursday, 22 February 2018 03:09 PM

A teenager who attempted to smuggle a tiger cub across the Mexican border into the United States last year was sentenced to six months in federal prison on Tuesday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In December, Luis Eudoro Valencia, 18, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally import tigers in connection with his possession of the Bengal cub, the newspaper said. Valencia's attorney tried to make the youth out as a wildlife enthusiast with the intention of making the animal his pet, the Union-Tribune reported.

The prosecution, though, introduced text messages obtained from Valencia's cell phone that appeared to address conversations about selling a number of federally protected species, per the newspaper.

"This is a crime against nature, as well as the laws of man, and it requires punishment if we're going to send a message to the public that we’re not going to tolerate this," U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia said during the sentencing hearing, the Union-Tribune wrote.

Robert Schlein, Valencia's lawyer, told Battaglia that his client's love for the animal clouded his judgment, the newspaper said.

"He had a lapse in judgment, allowing his passion for animals and youth to overcome obvious common sense," Schlein said in court, per the Union-Tribune. "He now knows that having wild animals as pets is just not something that’s possible."

Valencia admitted that he contacted a co-conspirator in Mexico on Aug. 18 to make arrangements to get the tiger cub, which he obtained four days later at the Tijuana Airport, the City News Service said.

He attempted to enter the United States in a vehicle with no license, holding the cub on the floor board underneath his legs, the City News Service reported. There, he attempted to convince authorities that the tiger cub was actually a cat, the news service said.

All tiger species, including Bengal tigers are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney General's office in December.

"We have laws in place to protect endangered species, and smuggling a tiger in the front seat of a car puts both the tiger and the public in jeopardy," U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said in December after Valencia entered his guilty plea. "We will hold violators accountable."

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A teen was sentenced to six months in prison Tuesday for trying to smuggle a tiger cub across the Mexican border into the United States last year.
teen, smuggles, tiger, cub
Thursday, 22 February 2018 03:09 PM
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