Saturday, September 30, 2023

Tiger Cub Found Inside Home When Officers Respond to Shooting

Tiger found is not believed to be the same tiger cub that went missing in a South Valley raid last year


On Tues., Jan. 10, Albuquerque Police officers were alerted to shots fired at 304 Indiana Street S.E. at approximately 2:15pm from ShotSpotter. While on the way, someone at the Allsup's convenience store reported that someone had been shot outside the business. Upon arrival, officers located an individual with a gunshot wound to the leg.

While police were at one scene, an additional gunshot was heard coming from a mobile home just to the north of the Allsup's. Officers quickly began to move towards the gunfire and located Kevin Gerardo Vargas Mercado who was armed with a semiautomatic handgun with an extended magazine. Mercado was taken into custody without incident.

Officers then began to follow a trail of blood leading to a trailer in the area. As they approached the trailer, the door was unlocked and the trail led inside. Officers made entry to attempt to render aide to anyone who may have been wounded, but did not locate anyone and have yet to locate the individual.

While inside the trailer, a Bengal Tiger cub was found inside a dog crate. The Gun Violence Reduction Unit was called out to assist and attained a search warrant for the residence in order to retrieve the tiger. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish was contacted and took custody of the tiger. Conservation officers transferred the tiger to the ABQ BioPark, where it was examined by veterinarians and determined to be in good health. The tiger will reside in its temporary home at the BioPark until an investigation is completed and a permanent facility is located.

The tiger confiscated Tuesday is only a few months old and weighed only 20 pounds. Game and Fish say the tiger cub that went missing in a South Valley raid earlier this year was is believed to be more than 1 year-old and likely weighs 50-90 pounds at this time. On Aug. 12, 2022, conservation officers and partner law enforcement served search warrants on two residences in Albuquerque’s South Valley in response to intelligence that a tiger was being illegally held at one of the residences. The tiger in that search was not located, but law enforcement officers seized an illegally possessed, 3-foot alligator along with illicit drugs, large quantities of cash and numerous and illegal firearms.

The Gun Violence Reduction Unit has taken over the ongoing shooting investigation.


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