US man hides 52 reptiles in clothing in border crossing attempt

US border agents seize nine snakes and 43 horned lizards while arresting man

The snakes and lizards in bags confiscated at the San Ysidro border crossing in California in February. AFP / US Customs and Border Protection
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A man who tried to slither past US border agents in California had 52 lizards and snakes hidden in his clothing, authorities said on Tuesday.

The man was driving a truck when he arrived at the San Ysidro border crossing with Mexico on February 25 and was pulled out for closer inspection, US Customs and Border Protection said.

Agents found 52 live reptiles tied up in small bags, “which were concealed in the man’s jacket, pants pockets, and groin area”, the agency said.

Nine snakes and 43 horned lizards were seized. Some of the species are considered endangered, authorities said.

“Smugglers will try every possible way to try and get their product, or in this case live reptiles, across the border,” said Sidney Aki, Customs and Border Protection director of field operations in San Diego.

“In this occasion, the smuggler attempted to deceive CBP officers in order to bring these animals into the US, without taking care for the health and safety of the animals.”

The man, a 30-year-old US citizen, was arrested.

Updated: March 10, 2022, 8:30 PM