SAN DIEGO – A man tried — and failed — to slither past customs officials last month, as California officers found 52 lizards hidden in his clothing.
According to a news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the 30-year-old American citizen attempted to cross the border at the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego at about 3 a.m. PST on Feb. 25. The man was driving a 2018 GMC truck and was pulled over for additional inspection, customs officials said in the Tuesday release.
During their search, offices found 52 bags that contained live reptiles — 43 horned lizards and nine snakes — that were concealed in the man’s jacket, pants pockets and groin area, the news release stated.
Officers arrested the man on smuggling charges and turned him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigators and Fish and Wildlife Services for further questioning, according to the news release.
The reptiles, some of which were identified as endangered species, were placed in a secure and safe area and will remain in quarantine, customs officials said.
“Smugglers will try every possible way to try and get their product, or in this case live reptiles, across the border,” Sidney Aki, Customs and Border Protection director of field operations in San Diego, said in a statement. “In this occasion, the smuggler attempted to deceive CBP officers in order to bring these animals into the U.S., without taking care for the health and safety of the animals.”