In a firearms-related operation, the Ecuadorian Judicial Police Intelligence Unit entered a house in an apparent state of neglect in the Centenario neighborhood, south of Guayaquil. While inspecting the house, they found 16 Galapagos tortoises there 55 seahorses dissected. Officers requested the intervention of the Environmental Protection Unit (UPMA) which determined the species of turtles, which are considered animals in danger of extinctionand opened the corresponding investigation.
“We have verified and consulted with Department of Environment officials and Galapagos National Park officials, who have determined that the turtles belong to the Galapagos tortoise genus, giant tortoises,” said Sgt. Fran Huilcafrom UPMA, as collected the universe.
Regarding the other stuffed animals, Huilca said that “these seahorses are cooked in brine, the same ones that bring them to Europewhere they are consumed in soup, in alcoholic beverages, such as aphrodisiacs”.
After the checks carried out by the agents of the sector, it was possible to conclude that the house where the species was kept had been abandoned for a year. The last tenant to have lived in the house would have been of Asian features according to the inhabitants of the district.
Sergeant Huilca said Teleamazon that turtles and seahorses are species that are generally trafficked in Europe and Asia: “These are people, usually foreigners, who They are dedicated to the accumulation of wild specimens. In the case of the Galapagos giant tortoises, they are highly sought after overseas. This is why there are people who transport them in large quantities to obtain economic returns”. According to Huila, each Galapagos tortoise can cost more than 2,000 USD in Europe.
The officer also indicated that “the wild specimens have been placed in a safe place, they are in charge of the Ministry of the Environment. There are 16 juvenile Galapagos tortoises, for the respective evaluation, to quarantine them. “
The police environmental protection unit will investigate this matter as wildlife trafficking from Ecuador to other countries.
Wildlife trafficking is penalized by local laws and there are also agreements and protocols that penalize those who commit this crime criminally, administratively and financially.
In Ecuador, article 247 of the complete Organic Penal Code punishes this crime with a prison sentence of one to three years. According to the legislation, the person who hunts, fishes, captures, collects, extracts, possesses, transports, traffics, profits, exchanges or markets specimens or their parts, components, products and derivatives, of terrestrial, marine or aquatic species, threatened species, in danger of extinction and other migratory species, listed at the national level by the National Environment Authority, as well as international instruments or treaties ratified by the State must be sanctioned.
He illegal wildlife trade is also related to transnational organized crime and the Drug traffic. Illegal transport of endemic species, especially from natural sanctuaries such as islands Galapagos in Ecuador, is one of the problems that affects the creatures of the archipelago, especially the turtles and at the iguanas.
There Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to which Ecuador subscribes has alarming figures in its archives. Reptiles, mainly from the iguana and turtle families, have been the third species with the most commercial exports from Ecuador since 1975.
the searcher Michelle Anagnostou said Environmental Diary, a platform specializing in the environment, that illegal wildlife trafficking and trade is linked to drug trafficking. This because criminal groups use the structures they already have to commit certain crimes and diversify their illegal interests. According to Anagnostou, who has investigated this link for several years, “drug trafficking emerged as most often linked to the illegal wildlife trade”.
For the expert, “if a drug trafficking route operates undetected by the authorities, it can also be used to transport wild animals”, as criminal groups look for any opportunity to increase their profits.
According to Anagnostou’s research, illegal wildlife trade is estimated to generate profits of between 7 USD and 23,000 million per year for traffickers.