BECHE-DE-MER INFORMATION JOURNAL - Characterising changes in a decade of Mexican sea cucumber crime (2011–2021) using media reports

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March 29, 2022 - Author: Teale N. Phelps Bondaroff, Felix Morrow, , Carmen Pedroza-Gutiérrez, Meredith L. Gore and Jorge A. López-Rocha

BECHE-DE-MER INFORMATION JOURNAL - Characterising changes in a decade of Mexican sea cucumber crime (2011–2021) using media reports

This paper uses over a decade’s worth of media coverage of sea cucumber crime (smuggling and poaching) in Mexico, in order to characterise the spatio-temporal magnitude of the problem and to better understand the modus operandi of those engaged in this form of wildlife crime. Towards this goal, we analysed and mapped incidents of crime relating to sea cucumbers taken from Mexican waters between 2011 and 2021; these were compiled from news media reports, government press releases and social media. The 97 incidents analysed revealed 125 arrests, with an average of 1.29 arrests and 1037 kg of sea cucumbers seized per incident. Mexican and United States authorities seized 100.6 tonnes of sea cucumbers, valued at an estimated USD 29.5 million. A qualitative review of these incidents reveals a number of key practises, including false identification, mislabelling, misreporting, stockpiling and invoice manipulation and fraud as means of laundering illicit catches. Also documented is corruption, the use of clandestine drying sites, and private vehicles for transportation. Media coverage of sea cucumber poaching and smuggling operations in Mexico frame the crime as being organised and conspicuous for its association with armed violence. 

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Tags: center for systems integration and sustainability, department of fisheries and wildlife


Authors

Abigail Bennett

Abigail Bennett
benne592@msu.edu

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