Mexico Drug Raid Uncovers Exotic Animals in Private Backyard Zoo

Mexican authorities said that they had arrested more than a dozen members of an alleged drug-trafficking ring in an upscale neighborhood of this capital seizing weapons, vehicles — and lions.

Eleven Colombians, a U.S. citizen, two Mexicans and an Uruguayan were detained during a raid Saturday in a sprawling mansion in Desierto de los Leones, organized-crime prosecutor Marisela Morales told a news conference.

Morales identified the gang's leader as Teodoro Fino Restrepo, who allegedly arranged for sea-borne cocaine shipments from Colombia to Mexico's Beltran Leyva cartel.

Also detained in the police raid was U.S. citizen Raul Munoz Montalvo, of Texas. Police did not release his hometown, and no one from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico was available to comment.

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All the suspects are being held on suspicion of drug trafficking, money laundering and organized-crime activities, Morales said.

Nine Mexicans working as waiters and disk jockeys were briefly held and released.

Authorities had been investigating the group since 2005, the prosecutor said.

The mansion, whose walls, ceilings and furniture are made almost entirely of ornately carved wood, appeared to have been used by the traffickers for parties on nights and weekends, authorities said.

It was equipped with a private zoo housing a collection of animals including two tigers and two lions. Police turned the exotic animals over to prosecutors. It was unclear what they planned to do with them.