Two Texas residents have been indicted for selling jaguar pelts illegally imported into the US from Mexico, authorities said.
Elias Garcia Garcia, 52, and Maria Angela Plancarte, 52, both of La Feria, Texas, "face charges related to the interstate sale of jaguar skins illegally entered into the United States from Mexico, in violation of the Endangered Species Act", US Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said.
The two allegedly offered to sell the pelts to potential customers in person in Texas and by electronic means to those living elsewhere, and they made several trips to South Florida.
"On Nov 9, 2010, Garcia and Plancarte sold 2 jaguar pelts to undercover FWS (US Fish & Wildlife Service) agents in Texas for $3,000 cash and offered additional future sales of up to 10 jaguar skins," the US Attorney's Office said.
Garcia and Plancarte also face charges of making a second sale to FWS agents in Homestead, Florida, for $4,000, with $3,000 as payment for the pelt and $1,000 as a deposit for the future sale of 10 jaguar skins, officials said.
The two suspects were arrested last week as they crossed from Mexico into the US at Brownsville, Texas.
"The defendants appeared before a United States Magistrate Judge in Texas and were ordered detained pending their removal to the Southern District of Florida," the US Attorney's Office said.
If convicted, Garcia and Plancarte face a maximum prison sentence of five years on the conspiracy count and up to one year on the two counts charging Endangered Species Act violations.