ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A federal search warrant shows a tiger cub found earlier this month may have been part of a larger animal smuggling operation. In early January, authorities found the tiger at a trailer on Zuni, after police were investigating a shooting. Now there are federal search warrants looking at two homes in Albuquerque and David Mendoza-Enriquez.
Duke the tiger cub was found at that shooting scene earlier this month. That find led federal authorities to investigate an illegal exotic smuggling operation in Albuquerque. The federal search warrant states the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was looking at David Mendoza-Enriquez for possible smuggling because of two confidential informants who told authorities about Mendoza-Enriquez’s suspected involvement in trafficking animals.
The court documents say Mendoza-Enriquez moved the animals and was bringing them into two homes in southwest Albuquerque. In the first home, authorities took samples showing multiple animals could have been there. They also found guns, drugs, and money. The second had guns, drugs, and more evidence that animals were kept there as well. The informants told law enforcement they had seen two tiger cubs at the second home.
They also say they saw a capuchin monkey and a crocodile but it had died recently. Mendoza-Enriquez had purchased the two tigers for $25,000 each, the capuchin monkey for $15,000, and the crocodile for $12,000 – all from a contact in Mexico.
The search warrant says he was hoping to sell the animals for double to triple what he paid for them. The informants also said the second tiger was moved in August to avoid law enforcement.
Investigators have reason to believe the second tiger is the same tiger police were looking for in a home near Old Town in August. They didn’t find a tiger but did find an alligator. The person at this call said he did not know Mendoza-Enriquez but was dealing with a Spanish-speaking person in Juarez.
The search warrant states the tiger found earlier this month was set to be sent to New York for drugs and money. So far Mendoza-Enriquez has not been charged with animal smuggling.
Recently, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said the second cub may have been found in another state. David Mendoza-Enriquez is in federal custody on unrelated drug charges.