Elias Garcia Garcia and Maria Angela Plancarte, both 53-year-old residents of La Feria, Texas, have plead guilty to selling jaguar skins throughout South Florida. Jaguars are of course protected by the Endangered Species Act, and the sale of their pelts is explicitly outlawed.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, announced the arrests with officials from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
Garcia and Plancarte began peddling jaguar skins for sale in Florida back in 2008, and also tried to sell the skins in Texas an through the internet. The two set up a plant seed company as a cover for the operation.
On November 9, 2010, the pair arranged to sell two jaguar pelts to someone in South Florida for $3,000. That costumer turned out to be an undercover Fish & Wildlife Service official.
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The two also made a deal with another undercover agent and took $4,000. $3,000 was for the sale of a single pelt, and an additional $1,000 was a down payment on 10 more pelts.
The pair had been smuggling the pelts in from Mexico.
The two will be sentence next March, and could face up to five years in prison followed by three-years of supervised release and fines up to $250,000.