Texas Duo Allegedly Tried to Sell Jaguar Skins to Federal Agents in South Florida
It's not every day a couple gets arrested for smuggling jaguar skins from Mexico to sell to people in South Florida, but today's one of those days.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Elias Garcia Garcia and Maria Angela Plancarte, both 52 years old, were arrested late last week on a trip crossing over from Mexico to Texas as part of an investigation that alleges they've been operating their jaguar-skin business in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
The feds say the duo started selling the skins to people in person around Texas and also "by electronic means elsewhere."
Garcia and Plancarte allegedly started selling the skins to undercover U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents in November 2010 and also started going on road trips to South Florida to sell them to the undercover agents there too.
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The feds say they sold two of the pelts to agents in Texas for $3,000 cash and promised to sell them ten more.
In South Florida, prosecutors say the agents made the same purchase but coughed up an extra $1,000 for a deposit on the ten future jaguar skins.
Unfortunately for Garcia and Plancarte, the jaguars -- known as Panthera onca in the science world -- are on the endangered species list.
Under the Endangered Species Act, it's a violation of federal law to sell an animal, dead animal, or its body parts if it's on the endangered list.
Garcia and Plancarte are charged with conspiring to traffic in protected wildlife and violating the Endangered Species Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of six years each if convicted.
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