Second arrest made in connection with staged burglary at Miami-Dade animal sanctuary

Suspects feared animals would be taken by FWC, police say

Armando Mendez and Josue Santiago face charges of filing a false police report.
Armando Mendez and Josue Santiago face charges of filing a false police report.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A second arrest has been made in connection with a staged burglary at a southwest Miami-Dade County animal sanctuary, authorities said.

Armando Mendez, 39, surrendered to authorities Wednesday and faces charges of filing a false police report and giving false information to authorities.

Police said Mendez's partner, Josue Santiago, 41, was arrested the previous day on the same charges. 

According to an arrest report,  Mendez and Santiago filed a police report Sunday claiming that exotic animals worth a total of $53,400 were stolen from the We Care Wildlife Sanctuary at 15401 SW 212nd St.

Detectives said they later determined that several exotic animals had previously been removed from the sanctuary by authorities.

Police said Santiago and Mendez feared that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was going to take the remaining animals, so Santiago gathered seven lemurs, three red-handed tamarins, five marmosets, one cotton top capuchin and one white faced capuchin and drove the animals to South Carolina.

The men then called 911 to report a false burglary, the arrest report stated.

Detectives said Santiago claimed on Monday that he knew the person who stole the animals and provided authorities with a woman's name.

Police said Santiago told officers he "freaked out" when they asked why he lied on Monday.

Authorities said Santiago confessed to lying about the burglary and admitted that Mendez knew he was removing the animals from the sanctuary. 




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