Mexico police seize dozens of exotic animals during raid
Officials raiding a property near the Mexican capital have seized 25 exotic animals, including lions, pumas and a Bengal tiger.
They had been alerted to "suspicious activity" at the ranch in Huixquilucan, west of Mexico City.
They also found pumps thought to have been used to steal petrol from fuel pipelines.
Criminals in Mexico often keep exotic animals as pets and a number of large cats have been seized in recent years.
The site where the animals were found is thought to have been used by a gang specialising in stealing and selling fuel.
Agents found a container with 14,000l of diesel, as well as several large vehicles such as lorries and buses, which they say may have been stolen.
A total of 47 live animals were at the property, some of which were kept in cages. They also seized seven dead animals, which had been stuffed.
The trafficking of animals is a lucrative business in Mexico, with criminal gangs increasingly buying and selling exotic species for profit.
While it is not illegal to own an exotic animal in Mexico as long as the owner can prove it came from a certified dealer and was born in captivity, many of the animals seized by the authorities in recent years have lacked the necessary paperwork.
The illicit trade in flora and fauna is now estimated to be the fourth-biggest illegal enterprise in the country, after the trafficking of drugs, people and guns, according to the office of the Mexican attorney general for environmental protection.
And it is no longer just drug traffickers who keep exotic animals as status symbols at their luxury ranches.
In 2020, a woman caused outrage when she walked around a mall in an upscale neighbourhood of Mexico City with a tiger cub on a leash.
And in December, traffic police were startled to find a tiger cub in the boot of a car they had stopped for a minor traffic infraction.