U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the San Ysidro port of entry thwarted a significant smuggling attempt after discovering 52 reptiles, tied up in small bags and hidden in and under a man’s clothing, as he tried to cross the border.
The incident occurred at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 25, when CBP officers encountered a 30-year-old male U.S. citizen, driving a 2018 GMC truck and arriving at the San Ysidro border crossing.
The officer referred the driver and the vehicle for further inspection. During the examination, a personal search of the driver was conducted and officers found several bags of live animals, according to CBP.
The officers removed a total of 52 bags of reptiles, later identified as 43 horned lizards and nine snakes, which were concealed in the man’s jacket, pants pockets and groin area.
CBP officers arrested the driver for the live reptiles smuggling attempt and turned him over to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement , Homeland Security Investigators and Fish and Wildlife Services for further processing. The driver was later transported and booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center, authorities said.
The live reptiles will remain in quarantine due to some species being identified as endangered, according to CBP.