If you think the only thing being smuggled across our borders is drugs think again.

The exotic animal trade is a billion-dollar industry. Texas—which has almost no regulation of exotic animals—has always been a hotbed. The few laws Texas does have are rarely enforced. With such little oversight, animal experts and law enforcement officials say, the breeding and smuggling of exotic animals—tigers in particular—are booming in Texas. “It probably has the largest population of tigers in the country,” says Richard Farinato, a senior adviser with the Humane Society of the United States, “because there are a lot of animal breeders and a lot of animal dealers.”

It’s nearly impossible to know how many tigers and other exotic animals live in Texas because no state or federal agency tracks the number of animals in private ownership. Farinato can only guess at the number. Some animal experts estimate at least 3,000 tigers in the Lone Star State. That means more captive tigers live in Texas than prowl in the wild in India.

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