(Photo : Sylvain Le Bris / Wikimedia Commons)
In a foiled smuggling attempt, $ 10,000 worth of endangered sea cucumbers from Mexico were seized by officials. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
In the upcoming months, sentences will be planned for an unsuccessful smuggling attempt in which border patrol agents at the Mexican border confiscated $10,000 worth of endangered sea cucumbers.
Endangered Sea Cucumbers From Mexico
This week in a federal court in California, wildlife traffickers admitted to smuggling endangered sea cucumbers from Mexico, which are treasured in China for their use in food and medicine as well as their alleged aphrodisiac properties.
Zunyu Zhao and Xionwei Xiao will get sentences in September and November, respectively, after being accused of conspiring to import brown sea cucumbers worth more than $10,000 illegally from 2017 to 2019.
Where the sea cucumbers were sourced has not been disclosed by the prosecution.
The bottom-feeders, however, were allegedly discovered with the defendants as they entered the US from Mexico at Calexico. The environmental protection agency of the Mexican government will receive from Zhao and Xiao.
The traffickers risk receiving a 25-year prison sentence because of their crime.
Investigators discovered text messages and photographs exchanged between Zhao and Xiao about the transactions after seizing the shipment of sea cucumbers at the border.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is holding the sea cucumbers as evidence.
The office is dedicated to maintaining the twin pillars of marine biodiversity and conservation, according to acting US Attorney Andrew Haden.
Criminals thinking about poaching protected species ought to be aware that this office, regardless of the species, will actively investigate, vigorously prosecute, and seek compensation.
Chinese Delicacy, Medicine, and Aphrodisiac
Sea cucumbers, which may grow up to seven feet long, are related to sea stars and sea urchins. Brown sea cucumbers can reach a height of two feet and have a smooth body covered in warts.
According to Gordon Hendler, curator of echinoderms at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles, the animals act as a vacuum on the ocean floor, dissolving particles that enter the ocean’s nutrition cycle.
The supposed destination of the cucumbers has not been disclosed by the prosecution.
However, they are regularly transported to China, where they are a delicacy, thanks to a burgeoning black market. They are typically cooked with fish, vegetables, and conventional sauces and served dried or fresh.
Additionally, they’re sought after for medical purposes like the treatment of joint pain, cancer prevention, and anti-inflammation, which are occasionally supported by research.
In addition, they are regarded as aphrodisiacs.
However, Isostichopus fuscus, the brown sea cucumber, is overfished, and as a result, harvesting restrictions are necessary.
Harvesting sea cucumbers is allowed in the US and many global regions, but within set limits during peak seasons.
Zhao and Xiao faced charges for lacking the required permits and documentation, as confirmed by Kelly Thornton, spokesperson for the US attorney’s office. In 2017, a father-son duo illicitly transported over $17 million worth of sea cucumbers from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to the US, eventually exporting them to Asia.
Between 2015 and 2020, the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard made 500+ arrests linked to $2.84 million in sea cucumber thefts.
Additionally, a Chula Vista case involved the illegal trafficking of sea cucumbers, sea horses, and totoaba fish bellies from 2016 to 2021.
Manisa Kung, a service agent, highlighted the US Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement’s utmost commitment to investigating wildlife trafficking worldwide.
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