Eighteen-year-old Luis Valencia, who smuggled a Bengal tiger cub into California from Mexico last year pleaded guilty to federal charges on December 5, 2017 in San Diego.
The 6-week-old cub was found on the passenger-side floor in Valencia’s car last summer at a San Diego border checkpoint. Valencia told authorities he obtained the animal as a pet but later acknowledged he was bringing the cub into the U.S. for commercial purposes.
He now faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Another defendant is awaiting trial.
The tiger cub named Moka lives at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Tigers are classified as an endangered species; it is illegal to import them without a permit.