A Riverside County man and a Texas woman have been federally charged for illegally selling and transporting a jaguar cub that was later abandoned.
Authorities say 40-year-old Trisha Denise Meyer, a Houston woman, sold the jaguar cub to 34-year-old Abdul Rahman from Murrieta in spring 2021. The jaguar was allegedly sold for $30,000 plus an additional $1,000 transportation fee from Texas to California.
Rahman owned the jaguar cub for around two months before selling it to another buyer for $20,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The new buyer brought the jaguar to his home where his pregnant wife and a newborn infant also resided, court documents say.
After “someone expressed concerns about having a juvenile jaguar and a newborn infant in the same house,” the cub was abandoned at an animal rescue center, an affidavit states.
The person who expressed concerns told police that he and another person placed the jaguar inside a dog kennel and left it on the doorsteps of the Alpine Animal Rescue & Sanctuary center.
The criminal charges against Meyer and Rahman allege violations of the Endangered Species Act, under which jaguars are protected, and the Lacey Act, which prohibits wildlife trafficking.
Meyer is charged with interstate transportation of an endangered species in the course of commercial activity, interstate sale of an endangered species, trafficking prohibited wildlife species, and trafficking endangered species.
If convicted, Meyers could face up to eight years in federal prison with a $700,000 fine.
Rahman is charged with interstate transportation of an endangered species in the course of commercial activity, trafficking prohibited wildlife species, and trafficking endangered species.
If convicted, Rahman could face up to seven years in federal prison with a $600,000 fine.
Local and federal law enforcement in Houston are currently searching for Meyer. Rahman is scheduled to appear in a Riverside court hearing on Nov. 9.
The jaguar currently remains at the Alpine animal sanctuary.
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