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The kilo sold by fishermen to Asian traffickers ranges from $ 500 to $ 2,000. It is then resold on the black market for a value close to $60,000. Cooked in a soup, the animal has medicinal and regenerative qualities
Despite the presence of Profepa inspectors and elements of the Navy secretariat (Semar), some 80 boats of “bucheros” – illegal fishers – broke into Sunday, December 8, in the refuge area of the vaquita marina , in San Felipe, Baja California , where they caught around 500 copies of Totoaba, known as “marine cocaine”, for illegal sale on the black market in China.
Then, the group of fishermen was arrested by elements of the Army, the Navy and the Federal Police, who seized the nets and the spoils of mass fishing. However, when they were taken to the premises of the local police station, a group of subjects on board vans intercepted them and forced the authorities to stop.
People of San Felipe recorded the moment in which civilians rebuked the uniformed. There were screams, jerks and threats. In the end, the police and military ended up releasing the detainees, releasing the nets and returning the boat. Unofficially it was said that the convoy of trucks was made up of members of the Cartel del Mar, associated with the trafficking of marine species and responsible for the illegal fishing of totoaba and vaquita marina.
Illegal fishing in the “zero tolerance area” was also recorded with drones by the Sea Shepherd organization, in charge of patrolling the region since 2015. The boats transported up to seven fishermen each, who after catching the totoabas, opened them with a knife and they removed the swim bladder or buche , before returning their bodies to the sea.
Allegedly, each crop (bladder) sells it to the Cartel del Mar for about USD 4,000, which in turn markets them up to USD 10,000 in China, where the belief that they possess medicinal and aphrodisiac properties is maintained.
In the images of the videos you can see that the boats use a new method known as ” Pesier de Encierro “, which consists of surrounding the specimens forming a fence with the gillnets, so that they do not escape.
According to Sea Shepherd, the inspectors of Profepa and Semar, who barely had two speedboats to protect the area, were overwhelmed by the large number of pangas and fishermen who came to the critical area of endangered species .
During the actions to stop them, two detonations of firearms were heard, which is why the ship of the conservation organization kept a safe distance, since four days earlier, on December 4, one of its drones suffered damage by shooting, while documenting illegal fishing activities.
The Sea Shepherd crew stated that they had never observed such a shameless and impunity poaching in the “Zero Tolerance Area”, identified by scientists as the most important habitat for the sea vaquita, drowning in the prohibited nets of fishing.
On September 30, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) promised that 600 federal elements would be sent to bring order to the Upper Gulf of California, including soldiers, sailors, national guards and inspectors.
However, today’s reality is very different, as the videos confirmed the growing threat and impunity that prevails in the area.