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Press Release

Undercover jaguar cub deal results in Big Cat Act charges

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

McALLEN, Texas – An Alamo couple have been arrested for selling protected wildlife in the first case filed under The Big Cat Act, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Legal permanent resident Rafael Gutierrez-Galvan, 29, and his wife Deyanira Garza, 28, made their initial appearances in federal court in McAllen Sept. 27.

According to the criminal complaint, Gutierrez-Galvan had sold a margay cub Aug. 24 for $7,500 in a local Academy Sports and Outdoors parking lot.  

On Sept. 26, Gutierrez-Galvan then attempted to sell a jaguar cub to the same individual. He allegedly instructed his wife to bring a case of cash from their residence to the location. However, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop before she could arrive and discovered the money.

Neither Gutierrez-Galvan or Garza possess a license to buy, sell, trade or transport exotic animals such as margays and jaguars.

Authorities recovered both animals.

The Big Cat Act was enacted in December 2022 and prohibits the importation, transportation, sale and possession of prohibited wildlife species. A jaguar is a prohibited species. Additionally, the Endangered Species Act prohibits the importation, exportation, sale and transportation of threatened and endangered species. Jaguars are listed as an endangered species.

If convicted, Gutierrez-Galvan and Garza face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $20,000 maximum fine.

Fish and Wildlife Service and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Houston and San Antonio Zoos. Assistant U.S. Attorney Devin V. Walker is prosecuting the case.

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


Baby jaguar cub on carpet with American flag in background


Baby margay cub in animal cage looking up through closed door
Updated September 28, 2023