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China Customs cracks major totoaba smuggling ring

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-12-26 13:09

China Customs announced today major results from multi-month operation to bring down smuggling rings of illegal totoaba swim bladders. Customs offices in Jiangmen and Nanning carried out the operation named "SY608" across numerous cities in Guangdong and Guangxi.

Totoaba. [Photo provided by the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources of México]

In one of China's most successful operations combatting the illegal wildlife trade, SY608 lead to the arrests of 16 individuals representing one of the main trafficking syndicates in totoaba swim bladders, confiscating 444.3 Kg of totoaba swim bladders worth and estimated RMB 182 million.

Though the investigation is still ongoing, preliminary results show the syndicate would purchase the totoaba swim bladders in Mexico then transport them through multiple transit points using suitcases before entering the country to be sold illegally.

"For many years China was not aware of the illegal trade in totoaba bladders," said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. "But when alerted, they stopped open trade and now they are taking down smuggling rings. Let’s hope their decisive action can help the remaining vaquita porpoises that are literally on the brink of extinction."

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