A Texas man will spend nearly two years in jail for trafficking rare animals into the U.S. — at a value of $3.5 million.
Alejandro Carrillo, 62, admitted to being part of a conspiracy to smuggle wildlife from Mexico into the United States, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors say Carrillo was the middleman in the scheme and would pick up wildlife from a co-conspirator in Juarez, Mexico. He then took the animals back to the United States in his car at the El Paso, Texas, border crossing.
Once he got the wildlife back into the United States, Carrillo shipped the animals via FedEx or U.S. Postal Service to U.S.-based customers. On many occasions, the animals died during transport, according to prosecutors.
At one point, Carrillo picked up and shipped a Central American river turtle, which is an endangered species.
Carrillo received a “crossing fee” for each border crossing. Between April 2015 and December 2019, he was paid more than $198,000.
Carrillo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic wildlife and one count of smuggling on July 9, 2020, according to federal prosecutors. He was sentenced this week to spend 20 months in federal prison.
“Wildlife trafficking is decimating much of the world’s natural resources,” said the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement Assistant Director Edward Grace.
“It is paramount to deter and dismantle wildlife traffickers in order to ensure the sustainability of our natural resources, protect against zoonotic diseases from spreading, and so that future generations will be able to benefit from the world’s diverse species of wildlife and plants.”