Man arrested after police say he tried to sell duct-taped iguanas from SUV

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A Gwinnett County man has been arrested after police say he bound nearly two dozen iguanas with Duct tape and tried to sell them out of his SUV.

Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas was on Jimmy Carter Boulevard, where police said Dayniel Del Toro Mendez was trying to sell the reptiles in a parking lot.

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Mendez, who owns a pet shop in the area, told police he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong, despite the condition of the animals.

“The iguanas were tied up,” Hildeshi Valle with Gwinnett County Police said. “Their legs were tied with duct tape in a non-ventilated area, which could cause them to die.”

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Iguanas are an invasive species in Florida. As of April, it’s illegal to purchase or sell them there, but it’s legal to capture and humanely kill them.

Police say Mendez crossed a line when he brought 22 iguanas he caught in Miami back to Norcross. He was trying to sell the animals for $10 a piece from the back of his SUV, police said.

“I guess it was his impression it wasn’t an illegal act,” Valle said.

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Police charged Mendez with 22 misdemeanor courts of animal cruelty. He’s since been freed on bond.

Online records indicate that it may not be the first time Mendez has tried to sell the animals. The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office lists a business registered to Mendez that is located in the same apartment that jail records indicate is his home.

Gwinnett Animal Control said all 22 iguanas have been adopted by families or sent to rescue groups.

Mendez did not respond to Thomas’ request for comment.