Illegal Shark Fin Trafficking: Cartel Connection Unveiled

Illegal Shark Fin Trafficking: Cartel Connection Unveiled

Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca – A sinister network directing the illegal trade of shark fins has been unearthed, shedding light on the clandestine operations intertwined with the legacy of organized crime. Fernando Rodríguez Mondragón, son of the late Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, once the head of the infamous Cali Cartel, stands accused of orchestrating this illicit enterprise, employing sophisticated tactics to smuggle shark fins from Buenaventura to international markets, notably Hong Kong and the United States, according to various Colombian sources.

Authorities divulged that the network, deeply entrenched in the Colombian Pacific, employed deceptive methods such as dehydrating and concealing the fins in bags, with shipments sometimes reaching a staggering four hundred kilos. This revelation follows a breakthrough undercover operation that infiltrated the heart of this nefarious syndicate, uncovering shocking economic disparities within its ranks.

Local fishermen, lured by meager payouts, were paid a mere 25 thousand pesos per fin, while the ringleader, allegedly Rodríguez Mondragón, pocketed up to six hundred thousand pesos for each transaction. This lucrative yet destructive trade resulted in the demise of over a thousand sharks monthly, underscoring not only the profitability of the enterprise but also its devastating toll on marine biodiversity.

In Buenaventura, fishing transcends mere economic activity, constituting a way of life passed down through generations. For many families, it serves as the primary, if not sole, means of sustenance. “We have also taught my nephews fishing, because it is the only way for us to survive here,” lamented a local fisherman to Noticias Caracol, emphasizing the dire circumstances faced by coastal communities.

Recent revelations from Noticias RCN further unveiled the extent of this illicit trade, with audios from the Prosecutor’s Office exposing the exportation of fins to lucrative markets in China and the United States, fetching exorbitant prices upwards of $450 per kilo. Despite Rodríguez’s apprehension and subsequent house arrest on charges related to wildlife trafficking, subsequent investigations have revealed his continued involvement in criminal activities.

The gravity of the situation was underscored by a 2021 seizure of 3,493 shark fins, representing five threatened species, camouflaged alongside swim bladders. Notably, 60% of these fins originated from species listed as threatened under CITES, emphasizing the urgent need for stringent measures to combat this rampant exploitation of marine life.

As authorities intensify efforts to dismantle this illicit network, the revelation of its cartel connections serves as a stark reminder of the enduring nexus between organized crime and environmental degradation, urging concerted action to safeguard our oceans and their inhabitants.


Source: Infobae, El País, El Tiempo
Source Infobae El País El Tiempo

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