Hundreds of rare parrots and monkeys, a Mexican lynx and a mountain lion have been rescued in the breakup of a major exotic wildlife smuggling operation, federal authorities announced Friday.

Arrests or indictments of eight people in Colorado, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas on Thursday dismantled one of the largest such operations ever uncovered in the United States, a Customs Service official said. The names of those arrested were not given in the initial announcement.The arrests followed a three-year undercover operation in the United States and several other countries. In all, more than 40 people have been arrested or indicted, and more are expected, the Customs Service announced. The seized animals were placed in zoos in Brownsville, Texas, and in San Antonio, where some of the arrests occurred.