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Man with 52 bags of reptiles hidden in clothing arrested at California-Mexico border

Posted at 1:04 PM, Mar 11, 2022

SAN DIEGO — A man with more than two dozen lizards and snakes hidden in and under his clothing was arrested as he tried to enter the U.S. from Mexico at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, U.S. border officials said.

On February 25, at around 3 a.m., a 2018 GMC truck arrived at the border crossing when Customs and Border Protection officers ordered a thorough inspection of the driver and his vehicle.

During a search of the driver, CBP officers discovered 52 bags of reptiles, including 43 horned lizards and nine snakes, “concealed in the man’s jacket, pants pockets, and groin area.”

The driver, identified by CBP officials as a 30-year-old U.S. citizen, was arrested over the smuggling attempt.

The reptiles were seized, and officials said, “The live reptiles will remain in quarantine due to some species being identified as endangered.”

San Diego CBP Director of Field Operations Sidney Aki said in a statement, “Smugglers will try every possible way to try and get their product, or in this case live reptiles, across the border. In this occasion, the smuggler attempted to deceive CBP officers in order to bring these animals into the US., without taking care for the health and safety of the animals. CBP enforces hundreds of laws at the border for more than 40 different government agencies, in part to help stop smuggling attempts like these which can lead to trafficking of possibly endangered species.”

This story was first reported by Jermaine Ong at KGTV in San Diego, Calif.