Animals

Routine Inspection Catches Teen Trying To Smuggle A Tiger Cub Into The U.S.

What's the craziest thing you've tried to sneak past the officers at the border? Chances are, it doesn't come close to what one teenager from California tried to smuggle back from Mexico.

Despite all the notices and warnings about what you can and cannot bring into the country, there are people who still go to great lengths to break the rules.

Eighteen-year-old Luis Eudoro Valencia is one of those people.

KUSI

While conducting a routine inspection, officers at the Otay Mesa border caught the young man crossing into the U.S. with a tiger cub lying on the floor of his 2017 Chevy Camaro.

The stunned border officials confiscated the wild cat but that wasn't the end of it. Since Valencia couldn't provide a permit or a declaration for being in possession of the tiger, he was pulled in for interrogation and he has since landed himself in hot water.

Valencia told the US Customs and Border Protection officers that he purchased the tiger in Tijuana, Mexico for $300 from someone who was walking an adult tiger on a leash on the streets.

That was his first mistake.

Valencia is now facing charges for unlawful importation and smuggling which could put him behind bars for up to 20 years.

Upon the startling discovery of the Bengal Tiger cub, officers took the animal into their custody and immediately contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“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,”  said Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego.

San Diego zoo

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enlisted the help of San Diego zoo so the cub's health can be monitored. Thankfully, he is in good shape.

"His heart and lungs sound good, his blood work looked great and, since he took a bottle from us, it's a good sign he'll continue to thrive," said Dr Jim Oosterhuis."I estimate the cub to be between five and six weeks old, and he weighs in at a little over six pounds," Dr. Oosterhuis said. "He has teeth coming in, so he'll be teething in the next week or two."

The precious cub is currently under 24 hour supervision by the zoo staff in an isolated area until further assessments are made.

As for Valencia, he was released on a $10,000 bail and is gearing up for a preliminary hearing on September 5 in San Diego.