A California teenager was arrested for trying to smuggle a tiger cub into the United States from Mexico Wednesday morning.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered the foreign feline lying on the floor of the car on the passenger side around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, CBP said in a press release.
Luis Eudoro Valencia, 18, was charged Thursday with smuggling a Bengal tiger into the United States, after he said he bought the animal for $300 on the streets of Mexico.
The furry cub was rescued and placed in a crate, before U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officers took over custody. The San Diego Zoo Global is now overseeing its care.
“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,” he said.
Valencia was released on a $10,000 bond.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 5 in federal court in San Diego.
If convicted, Valencia could face up to 20 years in prison.