TORRANCE (CBSLA) – Federal charges have been brought against 16 suspected exotic animal smugglers in a Southern California sweep against black-market wildlife trafficking.

Among the animals recovered in “Operation Jungle Book” was a Bengal tiger seized from a home in Ventura County and king cobras that a Monterey Park man tried to smuggle in from Hong Kong in potato chip cans, the U.S. district attorney’s office said in a news release Friday.

The operation, headed up by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also resulted in the recovery of two tiger cubs, exotic songbirds, monitor lizards and coral species, among other animals.

About two dozen animals were shown to media Friday morning at a USFS office in Torrance.

“We are combating an ever-growing black market for exotic animals,” acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown said in a statement. “An insatiable desire to own examples – both living and dead – of these vulnerable creatures is fueling this black market.”

Many of the recovered animals were being cared for at the Los Angeles Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, the Turtle Conservancy and the STAR Eco Station in Culver City.


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