2 indicted after imported jaguar cub was left on doorstep of Southern California animal rescue
A jaguar cub was illegally bought, sold, transported and ultimately abandoned outside an animal sanctuary in Southern California, resulting in federal charges for a Riverside County man and a Texas woman, prosecutors said.
Abdul Rahman, 34, of Murrieta and Trisha Denise Meyer, 40, of Houston were indicted Wednesday in federal court on charges of interstate transportation of an endangered species in the course of commercial activity, trafficking prohibited wildlife species, and trafficking endangered species, according to the U.S attorney’s office for the Central District of California.
Meyer, who also faces a charge of interstate sale of an endangered species, is at large and being sought by authorities.
Meyer is accused of selling Rahman the live cub in the spring of 2021 for $30,000 with an additional $1,000 fee to transport the animal from Texas to California.
Four members of a Merced family whose abduction was captured on surveillance video have been found dead, authorities confirmed.
“Prior to the sale, Meyer posted on Instagram photographs and videos of herself with the cub, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in this case,” according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
One to two months later, Rahman resold the cub to another buyer, identified only as H.G., for $20,000, prosecutors said.
Because H.G. lived in a home with a pregnant partner, prosecutors said, another person, identified as R.A., raised concerns “about having a juvenile jaguar and a newborn infant in the same house.”
H.G. allowed the cub to be taken to a rescue center.
On Sept. 17, 2021, R.A. and his roommate drove the cub to an animal rescue center in Alpine, Calif., in a large dog kennel and dropped it off at the entrance, prosecutors said.
“The event was captured on security cameras and law enforcement was notified,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The jaguar remains at the sanctuary in Alpine.
If convicted of all charges, Meyer faces up to eight years in prison and a $700,000 fine. Rahman faces up to seven years in prison and a $600,000 fine.
The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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