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Border agents rescue smuggled San Diego Christmas puppies

December 15, 2009 |  5:31 pm

Federal authorities in San Diego County rescued 15 sick puppies that were being smuggled across the U.S. border from Mexico to be sold here as Christmas presents, officials said today.Smuggled Puppies

The 2-month-old puppies, described as mixed-breed miniature poodles, were discovered Monday evening by Customs and Border Protection officers at the Tecate Port of Entry, according to San Diego County officials.

A majority of the animals were suffering from parvo, a virus that is often deadly. The puppies would be receiving intensive care from San Diego County Department of Animal Services or a local adoption center, officials said.

Officials identified the alleged smuggler as Raul Jimenez Gonzalez. He told authorities that he had a bottle of tequila as he attempted to cross the border, but federal officers saw something move in the back seat of his vehicle, according to county officials.

The puppies were discovered under a blanket in the back seat.

Jimenez Gonzalez allegedly admitted that he was taking the puppies to Los Angeles to be sold for presents, county officials said.

Officials with the Department of Animal Services were working with federal authorities to determine what, if any, charges would be filed against the alleged smuggler.

This is apparently not the first time Jimenez Gonzalez has been accused of puppy smuggling. Officials said they rescued 27 puppies in 2006 and 11 in 2007 in incidents allegedly involving Jimenez Gonzalez.

The director of the department, Dawn Danielson, said that smuggled puppies are in demand during the holidays.

Smuggled Puppy1
"Unfortunately, most of these puppies are sick," Danielson said in a statement. "So the buyer ends up spending a great deal of money trying to save the puppy's life, usually without success."

Anyone interested in adopting puppies in San Diego County is asked to visit the department's website.

--Robert J. Lopez

Photos: Smuggled puppies. Credit: County of San Diego.