On Wednesday, 29-year-old Rafael Gutierrez-Galvan and his wife Deyanira Garza, 28, had their initial court appearances in McAllen, as U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced.
Based on the criminal complaint, Gutierrez-Galvan was accused of selling a margay cub for $7,500 in a parking lot of a local Academy Sports and Outdoors on Aug. 24. Later on Sept. 26, he tried to sell a jaguar cub to the same buyer. He instructed his wife to bring a case filled with cash from their home to the meeting point. However, the police stopped her on the way and found the money.
Authorities said they were able to recover both animals in the case.
Neither Gutierrez-Galvan or Garza possess a license to buy, sell, trade or transport exotic animals such as margays and jaguars, federal authorities said.
In December 2022, the Big Cat Act was put into effect, which made it illegal to import, transport, sell or possess any wildlife species that are prohibited. This includes jaguars, which are considered a prohibited species.
The Endangered Species Act also prohibits the importation, exportation, sale and transportation of threatened and endangered species. Jaguars are listed as an endangered species.
Gutierrez-Galvan and Garza face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $20,000 maximum fine if convicted.