HomeNewsBriefHow Eco-Trafficking Operates at Local Peru Markets
BRIEF

How Eco-Trafficking Operates at Local Peru Markets

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 18 MAY 2015 BY KYRA GURNEY EN

A BBC report on wildlife markets in Peru illustrates how eco-trafficking works at the micro-level and how local and international demand, along with economic desperation, fuel the sale of endangered species.

According to the report, the so-called ecological police in Peru find an average of five or six endangered species for sale every day at local markets such as the one chronicled in Iquitos, along the Colombian and Brazilian borders. These include Amazonian frogs used to prepare a smoothie with purported health benefits -- which sells for less than $2 dollars -- as well as caiman, deer, and javelina meat. 

Vendors also sell live species to smugglers, collectors and would-be pet owners. On offer are exotic birds, reptiles, frogs, and monkeys (see video below). These animals are often drugged so they can be more easily smuggled out of the country or hidden among shipments of legally exported species. China is the largest market for contraband animals and plants, followed by the United States, according to the BBC.

Given the economic desperation of some vendors, who depend upon animal sales to support their families, and the magnitude of the problem, Peru's ecological police have had a minimal impact on the trade, according to the BBC. Fines often fail to deter vendors, and police frequently shut down one sales point only to see another open nearby. Although selling or transporting wildlife is illegal in Peru, ecological police told the BBC that in 2014, only seven people were sentenced to jail time for this crime in capital city Lima.

         The Price of Wildlife in Peru and Abroad  
Smoothie made from frogs  Less than $2 in a Peruvian market
 Live frogs  $5 in Peruvian markets near Iquitos
Rare frog species  Up to $100 in international markets 
Matamata turtles Up to $500 in the US
Black-beaked parrots Up to $1,000 in the US
"Bebeleche" monkeys  Up to $5,000 in the US

InSight Crime Analysis

The BBC report illustrates the first link in the eco-trafficking chain: the local markets. As evidenced by the report, this type of economic activity is attractive to vendors because of the profits on offer, the ease with which wild animals can be acquired, and the demand for exotic species on both a local and international level.  

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Eco-Trafficking

The report also demonstrates the obstacles authorities face in attempting to combat eco-trafficking, which has become a billion-dollar global trade facilitated by transnational criminal networks. According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, an estimated 350 million plants and animals are sold on the black market every year, producing around $19 billion in profits. On a regional level, law enforcement efforts to combat eco-trafficking in Latin America typically take a backseat to concerns about drug trafficking, resulting in a lack of resources and political will to address the problem. In addition, the sheer volume of cargo moving through airports often prevents authorities from being able to detect contraband animal shipments destined for international markets. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COVID AND CRIME / 23 JUN 2021

As Peru reels from having the worst COVID-19 caseload in the world, criminals are extorting the families of patients in…

ILLEGAL MINING / 28 AUG 2013

Peruvian "mafias" with extensive illegal mining interests are seeking to formalize those operations, according to the government, drawing attention…

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 24 NOV 2011

A long-running land conflict in southern Mexico is causing new problems, and the situation is made more dangerous by the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.