A Texas mom once arrested for housing three tigers and several “vicious” monkeys under the same roof as her teenage daughter is now facing federal charges after allegedly brokering the sale of an endangered jaguar cub—which was later abandoned on the doorstep of a California wildlife sanctuary.
Trisha Denise Meyer, 40, was hit with two misdemeanors and a felony, including the interstate sale of an endangered species and trafficking prohibited wildlife, for transporting the cub from Texas to California in 2021 after consummating the $30,000 sale in an Austin hotel room, prosecutors say.
The allegations against Meyer are detailed in a criminal complaint filed Sept. 15 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and first obtained by The Daily Beast. Meyer’s co-defendant, Abdul Rahman, is a Southern California car dealer who purchased the jaguar from Meyer but “quickly became dissatisfied” and wanted to sell it without losing money. The complaint notes that Rahman was given a $5,000 credit toward the $25,000 jaguar purchase because Meyer previously sold him a marmoset that went “crazy.”
Rahman unloaded the jaguar on a married couple—but the buyer’s pregnant wife was concerned about having a wild animal and a newborn in the same home. Eventually, the cub got too big and was dropped off under cover of night at an exotic animal rescue group in Alpine, California.
“These people are just idiots,” Bobbi Brink, founder and director of the organization, Lions, Tigers, & Bears, told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “And they don’t care about the animals at all. It’s all about the money.”
The jaguar is now at Brink’s 93-acre Alpine compound, she said, but she declined to comment further at the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which investigated the case.
In an email, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns, who is prosecuting the case, said agents are “actively looking for Meyer.” Rahman will be summoned to court instead of being formally arrested, Johns said.
Neither Meyer nor Rahman have lawyers listed in court records and did not respond to emails or messages left by The Daily Beast seeking comment.
Houston is apparently a hotbed for exotic animal trafficking. Meyer was arrested in 2016 for child endangerment after cops found three tigers, a cougar, a skunk, and a fox at home with her 14-year-old daughter. A game warden spotted the girl “petting and making physical contact with the tigers and the tigers making contact with her,” the Houston Chronicle reported at the time.
There were also several monkeys in the home, which had attacked people before, Meyer reportedly told police. She was also accused of keeping tigers and monkeys at a home in Nevada, where officers discovered a 17-year-old watching the tigers feed on raw chicken in the backyard. After taking a plea deal to a theft charge—the investigation began when a customer accused Meyer of scamming him out of $3,000—she received a deferred sentence and didn’t have to serve any jail time.
Six years later, Meyer has found herself on the wrong side of the Lacey Act, a federal law enacted in 1900 that bans the “trade or trafficking” of protected or illegally taken fish, plants, and wildlife. Jaguars have been listed as an endangered species since 1972.
In the complaint, Special Agent Ed Newcomer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) said investigators first became aware of the alleged crime in October of last year. At around 9:50 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2021, “two unknown subjects” were caught on CCTV abandoning a caged jaguar near the entrance to Lions, Tigers & Bears, the complaint states.
On Oct. 28, Newcomer spoke with Brink, who is identified as “B.B.” in the complaint. She told him that after the cub was left at the sanctuary, some of her staff had tracked down Instagram videos of individuals posing with the same jaguar.
“B.B. told me that she compared the spot and whisker patterns on the live jaguar dropped at the facility on September 17, 2021, and believed they matched,” the complaint continues, noting that the “spot and whisker patterns on individual jaguars are unique and can be used in scientific research to definitively identify” them.
The Instagram videos were traced to a man identified in court filings as A.G., in Riverside, California. and his wife, who is not named. During an interview with FWS, the man insisted that the jaguar he had posted on his Instagram belonged to his renter, who is identified in the complaint as H.G. The man said he “never owned the jaguar” and believed that H.G “purchased the jaguar from another person for approximately $20,000.”
The complaint added that A.G. believed that “after the jaguar grew too large,” his tenant “planned to kill it” but a friend convinced him to turn it over to Lion, Tigers, & Bears.
Investigators were able to speak with H.G. after he was arrested on two felony warrants in Texas and Arizona on unrelated charges. H.G. denied owning the jaguar and claimed the owner was someone he described as looking Indian or Saudi Arabian. Later, H.G. told investigators he believed “a woman from Texas” originally owned the jaguar and he didn’t know how it got to Texas.
A major break in the case, however, came after investigators spoke to a woman who posted Instagram and TikTok videos of the jaguar. The woman said she saw the jaguar inside an Austin, Texas hotel room after a car show in April 2021.
She said Rahman was there along with a woman, later identified as Meyer, who had a very small live jaguar with her, the complaint states.
Weeks later, the woman told investigators, she went to California for another car show and saw Rahman with the jaguar cub. She added that “Rahman kept the jaguar cub in his house” and that he “did not know how to take care of the jaguar and she gave him advice about how to care for and feed the jaguar.”
About two months after Rahman allegedly offloaded the jaguar to H.G., the woman saw the same cub at H.G’s house. Prosecutors believe H.G., who was living with his pregnant partner, bought the cub from Rahman for approximately $20,000, as H.G.’s landlord had said.
Investigators later learned that Rahman had also bought a marmoset from Meyer sometime in 2020. The complaint states that the marmoset was delivered to Rahman in a mesh bag, but that he was “upset” because it was “crazy” and not as young as he was expecting.
The marmoset was so difficult to care for that Rahman asked a pet shop in Las Vegas to temporarily take care of it. But he never went back, “effectively abandoning the marmoset in Las Vegas,” the complaint says.
When he then bought the jaguar, one individual told investigators, the cub “appeared to be very sick and started ‘splatter pooping everywhere.’” The person said he warned Rahman “that purchasing the jaguar was illegal and advised him not to do it.”
On Aug. 24, 2022, investigators interviewed Rahman, according to the affidavit. During that call, he admitted he bought the jaguar in May 2021 and called it “Amador” before renaming it “Hades.”
Meyer and Rahman also texted about the sale, including messages from Meyer acknowledging that the sale was against the law. After the sale, Meyer reached out to Rahman again about the social media posts featuring the cub.
“No bueno trust me get a handle on that,” Meyer texted in May 2021, according to the complaint. “If I got word of it here. That means others are seeing that & will snitch and they will be trying to track him down.”
On Aug. 24, Rahman identified Meyer in a “six-pack” photo lineup “as ‘Mimi,’ the woman who sold him the live jaguar,” the complaint states.
If anyone has information regarding Meyer’s whereabouts, investigators ask that they contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (281) 687-0682 or by clicking “Report a Wildlife Crime” on the FWS website.