An Alamo couple have been arrested for selling protected wildlife in the first case filed under The Big Cat Act, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Legal permanent resident Rafael Gutierrez-Galvan, 29, and his wife Deyanira Garza, 28, made their initial appearances in federal court in McAllen Sept. 27.
According to the criminal complaint, Gutierrez-Galvan had sold a margay cub Aug. 24 for $7,500 in a local Academy Sports and Outdoors parking lot.
On Sept. 26, Gutierrez-Galvan then attempted to sell a jaguar cub to the same individual. He allegedly instructed his wife to bring a case of cash from their residence to the location. However, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop before she could arrive and discovered the money.
Authorities recovered both animals.
The Big Cat Act was enacted in December 2022 and prohibits the importation, transportation, sale and possession of prohibited wildlife species. A jaguar is a prohibited species. Additionally, the Endangered Species Act prohibits the importation, exportation, sale and transportation of threatened and endangered species. Jaguars are listed as an endangered species.
If convicted, Gutierrez-Galvan and Garza face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $20,000 maximum fine.
Fish and Wildlife Service and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Houston and San Antonio Zoos. Assistant U.S. Attorney Devin V. Walker is prosecuting the case.
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