Thursday, August 14, 2014

14/08/2014: Fish bladder harvesting and smuggling the new 'cocaine' trade

The bladders of endangered fish from the Gulf of California reportedly sell for thousands illegally, reports Daily Mail.

A Totoaba fish bladder sells between US$7000 and
US$14,000 - and soup  containing the organ may go for $25,000 in China, according to a Mexicali Digital report.
Fishy: This March 2013 image provided by the U.S. attorney's Office shows Totoaba bladders displayed at a US border crossing in downtown Calexico, Mexico

Totoaba bladders travel to the United States and and eventually reach Asia, the website reported.

According to the Smithsonian Institution's website, one totoaba bladder can attract a
US$5000 payoff in the United States, and more than US$10,000 in Asia.

Both Mexican drug cartels and US smugglers have transported the fish, according to Fox News Latino.

In Mexico, Samuel Gallardo Castro was allegedly murdered in June due to an outstanding
US$1million fish payment, and last year four traffickers were busted, Fox said.

Mexican regulators seized illegal totoaba bladders worth an estimated
US$2.25million in 2013 alone. In the United States, seven defendants were charged in four separate complaints with unlawful trade in wildlife.

Jason Xie, 49, of Sacramento was accused last year of taking delivery of 169 bladders on March 30 2013 in a hotel parking lot in Calexico, about 120 miles east of San Diego. Xie told investigators he was paid
US$1500 to US$1800 for each of 100 bladders in February.

Anthony Sanchez Bueno, 34, of Imperial was charged with the same crime after authorities said he drove the 169 bladders across the downtown Calexico border crossing in three coolers.

He told investigators he was to be paid

Song Zhen, 73, was accused of storing 214 dried totoaba bladders in his Calexico home.

'It's aquatic cocaine,' said Jay Barlow, a marine mammal expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 'With two days of fishing, you can buy a new pickup truck.'

An International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita report said the US must play a role, noting 'thousands of swim bladders are dried and smuggled out of Mexico, often through the United States. The remainder of the fish is left to rot on the beach.'

Read more HERE.

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