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Texas monkey smuggler pleads guilty

A 20-year-old Texas woman has pleaded guilty to illegally smuggling a spider monkey into the United States and fleeing from law enforcement when they discovered the animal.

Savannah Nicole Valdez, 20, attempted to enter the U.S. in Brownsville, Texas, on March 21, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Law enforcement observed a box with holes inside the vehicle that Valdez said contained beer she purchased in Mexico. Documents say when authorities opened the box they discovered a live spider monkey and referred Valdez to a secondary inspection.

Valdez refused to comply with their instructions and instead sped off, running a traffic light and nearly colliding with officers and other vehicles.

Later that day, authorities found multiple online postings advertising the sale of the spider monkey in the Katy and Houston areas with Valdez’s phone number listed in the advertisements.

A week later, Valdez turned herself in. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

The spider monkey was placed at the Central Florida Zoo.


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