Endangered animal smugglers arrested in Russian Far East
Acting on tip, the Russian Interior Ministry arrested three foreign men on suspicion of poaching and smuggling in Vladivostock on Wednesday. Video provided by the Interior Ministry shows police catching the men on Shishkin Street in Vladivostock, with an inspection of their vehicle revealing about 750 fresh, individual trepangs held in plastic containers.
Trepangs, a medicinal and culinary delicacy in China, are the harvested form of the sea cucumber, a long, marine echinoderm prevalent throughout global waters.
After the arrest, police raided the residence of the men and discovered a workshop for drying of trepangs, as well as Chinese money, identification cards, and documents. Further, police discovered an illegal skin of the rare Amur tiger, the world’s largest big cat, in a closed bag in the residence.
Police believe that the men are nationals of the People’s Republic of China. Fisheries dedicated to commercially raising trepang exist throughout China and fishery markets across the globe, including in Central America, Australia and Alaska, specialise in gathering trepang for export.
A kilogram of trepang can cost as much as $1000 (€765). However, a vibrant black market exists for the highly prized commodity, with prices for a kilo of trepang as high as $300 (€230). Some scholars claim that trepang has been popular in Chinese markets for thousands of years, but official Chinese records indicate that it achieved widespread popularity around the 17th and 18th centuries.
Watch video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zODzBPx3x2c
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