Why a Teen Got a 'Light' Sentence For Smuggling a Tiger Cub
Does a punishment of six months in prison match the crime?
The Bengal tiger cub lay between the legs of Eriberto Paniagua, the 21-year-old passenger in a Chevy Camaro driven by 18-year-old Luis Valencia, court documents said. As the car rolled across the border from Mexico to San Diego, California, early one morning in August 2017, a customs officer spotted the exotic cat and seized it.
Last month U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia sentenced Valencia to six months in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle wildlife, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
It’s illegal to bring tigers—an endangered species—into the U.S. without paperwork showing the import is for scientific or conservation purposes. Court documents show that Valencia