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Press Release

Foreign trio charged with trafficking protected animals

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas – Three Mexican nationals have been indicted on charges of attempted exportation of wildlife, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

A federal grand jury returned the two-count indictment against Jonathan Roberto Rojas-Casados, 32, Roberto Rojas-Ramirez, 50, and Roberto Angel Roman-Alvarez, 27, today. They are expected to make their initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.

The charges allege the men attempted to take over 160 animals out of the country.

On Aug. 3, according to the complaint originally filed in the case, the three men drove two vehicles into the Hidalgo Port of Entry and attempted to travel outbound into Mexico. Rojas-Casados and Roman-Alvarez allegedly rode together in a Ford Econoline while Rojas-Ramirez followed behind in a separate vehicle.

The charges allege authorities sent both vehicles for inspection. Upon a search of the Econoline, they allegedly discovered two boxes that contained over 160 animals that were concealed in small plastic containers and fabric bags located within the boxes. Among the animals were snakes, Chinese water dragons, iguanas, scorpions, tarantulas, frogs, geckos and lizards, according to the charges.

Rojas-Ramirez allegedly picked up the wildlife and loaded the boxes into the vehicle. Then, he contacted Rojas-Casados for assistance in transporting the wildlife in exchange for payment, according to the complaint.

The charges further allege that several of the animals are classified as Appendix II wildlife in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):



Common Name

Scientific Name


Ball Python

Pythons regius


Colombian Rainbow Boa

Epicrates maurus


Black and White Tegu

Salvator merianae


Green Iguana

Iguana iguana


Forest Armadillo Lizard

Cordylus jonesii


Jackson’s Chameleon

Trioceros jacksonii


Russian Tortoise

Testudo horsfieldii


Red-eyed Treefrog

Agalychnis callidryas


Green and Black Poison Dart Frog

Dendrobates auratus


Dyeing Poison Dart Frog

Dendrobates tinctorius


Curly-hair Tarantula

Tliltocatl albopilosus


Emperor Scorpion

Pandinius imperator


It is a violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to export wildlife without a license or permission from the Department of the Interior or Department of Commerce. It is an additional violation of the Lacey Act to export CITES Appendix II wildlife against the ESA. None of the men had a license or permission to export wildlife from the United States, according to the charges.


If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.  


Homeland Security Investigations and Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection and Gladys Porter Zoo. Assistant U.S. Attorney Devin V. Walker is prosecuting the case.


An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Updated August 23, 2022