SAN DIEGO (AP) – A California teen has been sentenced to six months in prison for smuggling in a Bengal tiger cub from Mexico.
The defense attorney for 18-year-old Luis Valencia told the court Tuesday in San Diego before his sentencing that his client had had a lapse in judgment and wanted the endangered tiger as a pet.
But prosecutors argued Valencia’s cell phone data showed he was running an animal smuggling business and boasted about fetching thousands for monkeys, jaguars and lions.
The 6-week-old cub was found on the passenger-side floor in Valencia’s car in August at a San Diego border checkpoint.
Tigers are endangered and it’s illegal to import them without a permit.
The tiger cub was named Moka and now lives at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.