Hundreds of police raided illicit markets to crack down on the lucrative trade in wild animals and rare flowers in Mexico.
Twenty-seven traffickers were arrested across the country over the weekend in one of the biggest swoops of its kind.
Rich in flora and fauna, Mexico is a major hub for animal trafficking. Locals buy lizards, macaws and tropical fish in city markets and smugglers move endangered species across the country's border with the United States.
In four days of raids, authorities netted 5,571 wild plants and animals - including 108 parrots and 854 other types of birds and 672 reptiles.
The operation also found more than a dozen threatened animals like turtles, deer, snakes, iguanas, frogs and monkeys.
Most animals were rescued in illegal markets in Mexico City, Veracruz, Michoacan and San Luis Potosi.
Animals and plants sold on the black market cost just a fraction of the price of legal breeds. However, authorities say more than 90 percent of them sold unlawfully die in transit.
Interpol estimates the global illegal trade in live species and animal parts is worth up to US$20 billion a year. They are used to produce luxury goods, medicines or folk remedies like aphrodisiacs.
Officials could not put a value on the animals and plants recovered, but said the aim was to reverse the harm caused by taking protected species out of their natural environment.
Most of the species are sold locally, but the United States is also one of the largest markets for banned pets and animal products. It makes Mexico a busy corridor smuggling species from across Latin America and other parts of the world.
Mexican drug lords have been known to collect animals like big cats as trophy pets or hide narcotics in wildlife cargo.
3 News / Reuters
source: newshub archive