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Son of Former Colombian Drug Trafficker Heads Illegal Shark Scheme


Colombian Shark
Colombian police have uncovered a shark-marketing ring in the country, which was being led by the son of former drug trafficker of the Cali cartel, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela. Credit: Sandro Lacarbona. CC BY 2.0/flickr

The national Colombian police uncovered a criminal network that profits from marketing shark fins in the country, and the newspaper Semana has discovered that the organization was led by the son of a renowned former drug trafficker.

The sharks were caught in various regions of the Pacific and treated using reportedly sophisticated methods before being sent to other countries, primarily in Asia, where a range of shar meat is used in soups for festive celebrations.

The police operation saw 3,493 fins seized at the El Dorado international airport, with 2.5 tons worth of shark carcasses were found in Buenaventura. Following the discovery, the authorities initiated a search to find those responsible.

Six arrest warrants were issued for the alleged crimes of illegal fishing, wildlife trafficking and illicit use of natural resources, with a potential 135-month prison sentence for the members of the organization responsible.

Five members of the network are free, while the alleged leader of the organization is under house arrest. The man heading up the network is Fernando Rodriguez Mondragon, son of the former drug trafficker of the Cali cartel Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela.

Mondragon accepted the charges before a judge and the sentencing hearing is now being awaited.

How did Colombian Police Discover the Shark-Marketing Scheme?

The first hint of a shark-marketing network uncovered by investigators occurred at a checkpoint installed over sea waters in the jurisdiction of Bahia Solano, Choco, where units recovered more than 904 kilograms of shark – a protected species of which industrial or small-scale fishing is prohibited, according to the Colombian Navy.

“The events were recorded when they inspected a fishing vessel named Los Pescadores, flying the Colombian flag, crewed by eight people and which had set sail from Buenaventura,” the navy reported to Semana.

Amid the inspection of the ship’s cold rooms, other underwater species were found, so it was decided to escort the fishing vessel to the dock for a more thorough review of the cargo. It was during this inspection that bags containing 89 fins and 114 shark bodies were discovered, and subsequently, the seized fish and the boat’s crew were placed at the disposal of the Attorney General’s Office, where the judicial process is ongoing.

“The Colombian Navy will continue to strengthen actions to protect and safeguard fishing resources, maritime and river spaces of the Pacific coast, with the purpose of counteracting crimes against the marine and coastal environment,” the Navy added.

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