Massive Raid on Exotic Animal Traffickers Nets Thousands of Rare Plants and Animals in Mexico
A series of raids on black market exotic animal traffickers across Mexico resulted in 15 arrests and the recovery of thousands of plants and animals, Reuters reports. The raids took place over the course of three days, netting 4,725 wild plants and animals from 113 different species. Among the intercepted animals: 762 parrots and other birds, 67 reptiles, wild boars, white-tailed deer, and three tiny puma cubs.
“This is the first operation like this on a national scale,” Environmental Minister Juan Elvira told Reuters. “We’ve recovered 3,500 trafficked orchids, that’s a record.”
Mexico, rich in tropical plants and wildlife, is a major hub for animal trafficking. Mexicans buy birds, fish and reptiles in local markets and smugglers traffic them into the United States. Many animals are also sold to wealthy locals, like drug lords, who are particularly fond of big cats.
Black market plants and animals can be had for a fraction of the cost of legal breeds. But only a fraction of them– less than 10%– survive the harrowing ordeal of transit. Still, Interpol estimates the global trade in live animals and animal parts is worth up to $20 billion annually.
In Mexico, traffickers pay poor indigenous farmers a pittance to collect wild animals, such as parrots that can be sold for up to $50 each, from the jungle. “They’re taking advantage of this population,” Elvira said.
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