Mexico seizes 10 tigers, 5 lions in cartel-dominated area
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Prosecutors in Mexico said Saturday they have seized a huge collection of exotic animals including 10 tigers, six jaguars, five lions and other species in a cartel-dominated town.
The announcement came just a week after U.S. prosecutors revealed that a boss of the Sinaloa cartel fed his enemies, alive and dead, to tigers he kept.
The discovery announced Saturday came in the western state of Jalisco, the turf of a cartel of the same name.
Authorities did not identify the owner of the land where the vast menagerie was found. But the township of La Barca, Jalisco has been the scene of mass graves and cartel executions in the past.
Agents also found antelopes, a llama, deer and birds at the property.
The animals appear to have been kept in pens, stalls and cages over a wide area.
It is not clear why they were being kept, but the animals were seized and were presumed to have been held illegally.
In 2013, at least 65 bodies were unearthed from clandestine burial pits around La Barca, which is located near the neighboring state of Michoacan.
In most cases in Mexico, seized animals are taken to private or public zoos or reserves where they can receive the proper attention.
The seizure came a week after U.S. prosecutors revealed grisly details about how some drug lords use tigers.
“While many of these victims were shot, others were fed dead or alive to tigers kept by Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, the defendants, who raised and kept the tigers as their pets,” according to an indictment unsealed April 14 in the New York Southern District against the Sinaloa cartel and its associates.
The brothers, sons of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, are the lead defendants among 23 associates named in the indictment.
Mexican narcos’ fascination with exotic animals has long been known.
In 2022, photos from the scene of a drug gang shootout with police in which 11 gang members died, showed a small monkey — dressed in a tiny camouflage jacket and a tiny “bulletproof” vest — sprawled across the body of a dead gunman who was apparently his owner.
True to form, the dead monkey quickly got his own “corrida,” the traditional Mexican folk ballad often composed in honor of drug capos.
“Life is very short, it wasn’t the monkey’s turn (to die),” according to the ballad, posted on social media.